Cameron to defend EU reforms in parliament

Prime Minister David Cameron will defend reforms before parliament to keep Britain within EU

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks to factory staff at the Siemens plant in Chippenham, southern England, February 2, 2016.

British Prime Minister David Cameron will on Wednesday defend planned reforms before the UK parliament to keep Britain within the European Union.

Cameron and EU President Donald Tusk reached a proposed agreement on Tuesday after four days of talks.

The proposal will be discussed by the EU envoys on Friday and at a summit with the attendance of all EU members on February 18 and 19.

After the proposal is unveiled on Tuesday, Cameron said he will campaign to stay within the EU, if EU leaders back his renegotiation plan.

He said if the union can agree on the proposals, the referendum on Britain’s EU membership will take place a few months early.

According to the text, if Britain chooses to stay in the EU after the referendum, it could immediately suspend welfare payments to EU migrants for four years.

EU member countries will have the right to curb benefits "on the consent of a qualified majority of other European governments if there is an exceptional inflow of workers from elsewhere in the EU," the text said.

Britain will also be exempted from the eurozone legislation and from further "political integration into the European Union."

Tusk said in a letter to EU leaders that "To be, or not to be together, that is the question which must be answered not only by the British people in a referendum, but also by the other 27 members of the EU in the next two weeks."

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (R) addresses the European Parliament during a debate on the upcoming summit and EU referendum in the UK, in Strasbourg, France, February 3, 2016

The proposal is likely to be approved by the union.

On Wednesday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that "The settlement that has been proposed is fair for the UK and fair for the other 27 members."

"It is also fair for the European Parliament ... the parliament must be fully signed up to the new settlements."

The Netherlands, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, also said that the deal is likely to be agreed.

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said that the proposal "paves the way for an agreement in the European Council. I am sure a solution can be found."

Britain's pro-EU campaigners were pleased with the proposals, which Cameron called "real progress."

However British eurosceptics are unconvinced.

UK Independence Party head Nigel Farage dismissed the proposals as "pathetic," while conservative Steve Baker said the prime minister was just "polishing poo."

TRTWorld and agencies