British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed proposals for keeping Britain in the European Union (EU) presented by European Council president Donald Tusk on 2 February. The proposals addressed all four areas where Cameron has demanded reform, but must still be agreed by other EU states.
The two sides have been locked in talks trying to find a way for Cameron to win what he has called the "best deal possible" for Britain while keeping other EU states on board before a referendum that could take place as early as June this year. Tusk's text said that Britain could immediately suspend welfare payments to EU migrants for four years if Britons voted to stay in the bloc and could, alongside other countries, have new powers to block legislation. Britain could also opt out of further political integration in the 28-member bloc. Cameron welcomed the proposals.
"Well, at the beginning of this process we set out the four areas where we wanted to see substantial change, and this document delivers that substantial change. But of course there are still detail to be worked on, there are important things to be secured, there is further work to be done, and of course there is the negotiation at the European Council, so hard work, but I think we made real progress," he said. However, proposals to protect Britain and other non-eurozone countries from deeper eurozone integration do not grant London the right of veto over decisions, Tusk told other EU leaders in a letter.
Asked about his request for a red card to block legislation, Cameron answered: "Well, on so many things I was told these things would be impossible. I said I wanted a red-card system for national parliaments to block legislation; people said you wouldn't get that, it's there in the document. People said we wouldn't get the idea of people having to wait four years before getting in-work benefits in Britain, it's there in the document. People said you will never really manage to sort of get Britain out of the concept of a closer union. Again, pretty clearly set out in the document. So real progress, more work to be done, more detail to be nailed down. But we said we needed to deliver in four key areas. This document shows we have progressed on that front," he added.
EU leaders hope to agree the proposals at a summit on 18 February.