david cameron.jpg
Photograph: EPA/Radek Pietruszka

British Prime Minister David Cameron has negotiated a series of reforms to his country's relationship with the European Union, ahead of a referendum on membership expected to take place later this year.

Britain has always been reserved about its place in the 28-member bloc, with euroscepticism growing in recent years.

The reforms, agreed after marathon talks in Brussels, are legally binding and can only be changed by unanimous agreement of all member states. They will only come into effect if Britons vote to remain inside the bloc.

Key aspects of the deal:


Britain has secured recognition that it is not committed to further political integration into the EU. The country has argued that it does not want to surrender more powers to Brussels.

References in EU treaties "to ever closer union do not apply to the United Kingdom," the text states. Wording to this effect is to be included in future treaty changes.

Cameron had also wanted to give national parliaments a greater say on EU issues.

The leaders agreed to a "red card" system that will allow 55 per cent of national parliaments to club together and stop or amend newly proposed EU legislation, if they believe the matter should be dealt with nationally.


Cameron's efforts to curb labour immigration proved particularly thorny. Many Britons fear that continental Europeans are saturating their job market and abusing the country's welfare system.

Under the deal, Britain can apply a "safeguard mechanism" that will restrict incoming workers' access to social benefits for four years, gradually raising entitlements over this period. Other member states will have to approve the measure, which can then apply to newly arrived workers for seven years.

Another point of contention was a British bid to reduce child benefits to EU workers whose families live abroad.

EU leaders agreed to let any member state adapt child benefits for these workers to costs in the country where their family is living. Under the compromise, this will apply only to new claims until 2020, when it can be extended to previously existing child benefit payments.

The text includes wording to prevent this system from being extended to other benefits such as pensions.


Britain, which is home to the EU's largest financial hub, is worried that decisions taken by eurozone countries could harm its interests. London has no plans to ever adopt the euro.

In response, the leaders approved a mechanism to address the concerns of non-euro states, allowing them to trigger debates among the 28 EU leaders on initiatives that they believe harm their interests.

However, the mechanism "cannot constitute a veto nor delay urgent decisions," EU President Tusk has said.


Britain has been granted assurances that the EU will seek to improve its competitiveness, cut red tape for businesses, pursue an ambitious trade policy, encourage entrepreneurship and boost job creation.

Many people in Britain view the EU's single market - in which goods, people, services and capital can move freely - as one of the most attractive aspects of membership.

Latest news

Croatian MEP says Moscow wants to influence in western Balkans

Croatian MEP Ivan Jakovcic said in an interview with the Montenegrin Pobjeda daily on Thursday that Moscow is trying to exploit the political forces in Montenegro and that Russia's meddling in Montenegro's internal affairs was "unacceptable behaviour."

New York Times launches brand campaign for "The Truth" with Oscars ad

The New York Times is using Sunday's Academy Awards show to launch an advertising drive with an ad spot that capitalizes on President Donald Trump's confrontational relationship with the paper and other mainstream media.

Gambia charges former spy chief with murder of opposition leader

The former head of the Gambian national intelligence agency has been charged with the murder of an opposition youth leader who died in detention last year.

Dutch populist Wilders won't publicly campaign after security fiasco

The Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) won't make public appearances in support of its election campaign after a security official assigned to protect party founder Geert Wilders was detained by police.

Peace Implementation Council Steering Board calls for defusing tensions in Bosnia

The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met on Thursday, expressing the international community's concern about the situation in the country and calling on local politicians to act rationally to prevent an escalation of the crisis after a motion was submitted to review an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling in BiH's case against Serbia for genocide.

Trump blasts Mexico as top diplomat holds talks in Mexico City

US President Donald Trump expressed ambivalence about the US relationship with Mexico as he blasted the country Thursday for what he claims is an unfair trade relationship.

Croat accused of rioting at UEFA 2016 game goes on trial

The trial of Ivan Vucenovic, 21, accused of causing rioting during a European soccer championship match between Croatia and the Czech Republic in Saint Etienne, France last June, began at the Sibenik Municipal Court on Thursday.

Schools blocked, 26 arrests in Paris protests against police abuses

Hundreds of young people took to the streets of Paris on Thursday in protests against alleged police brutality, with local media reporting that 16 secondary schools were forced to shut.

Aid agency: 13 dead among dozens trapped in Libya container

The bodies of 13 migrants were found along with dozens of survivors trapped inside a transport container in Libya's western town of Khoms, an aid agency said Thursday.

Strike grounds hundreds of Alitalia flights

Employees of loss-making Italian airline Alitalia walked off the job Thursday after government-mediated talks failed to break the deadlock, causing the airline to cancel hundreds of flights.

Bosnia requests review of ICJ judgement that exonerating Serbia

Bosnia and Herzegovina's legal counsel Sakib Softic on Thursday submitted a request to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, for a review of a judgement in the genocide suit against Serbia.

Frljic: Warsaw play big hit, ascribes criticism to conservative repression

The media have reported that Polish prosecutors on Wednesday began investigating Frljic's play, which the Catholic Church and the conservative community in Poland have called "blasphemous".