EU Referendum

Defeat looms for Cameron as EU warns there’s ‘NO CONSENSUS’ for key renegotiation demand

DAVID CAMERON was yesterday warned he faces defeat over his demands for European Union reform, as he was told there is “no consensus” for his changes amid “substantial political differences”.

Donald Tusk and David CameronGETTY
Donald Tusk today replied to David Cameron’s demands
Last month, the Prime Minister laid out four areas in which he is seeking to renegotiate the UK’s membership of the EU in a letter to European Council president Donald Tusk.

 But, in his response to Mr Cameron’s demands, the former prime minister of Poland yesterday all but ruled out agreeing to Downing Street’s call for a crackdown on EU migrants’benefits.
Although he said there was “a strong will on the part of all sides to find solutions”, the Brussels chief delivered a withering verdict on Mr Cameron’s bid for a four-year ban for EU workers in the UK claiming in-work benefits and social housing.Referring to the Prime Minister’s demand to clamp down on EU benefit tourism ahead of an upcoming European Council summit this month, Mr Tusk said: “The fourth basket on social benefits and the free movement of persons is the most delicate and will require a substantive political debate at our December meeting.

“While we see good prospects for agreeing on ways to fight abuses and possibly on some reforms related to the export of child benefits, there is presently no consensus on the request that people coming to Britain from the EU must live there and contribute for four years before they qualify for in-work benefits or social housing.

“This is certainly an issue where we need to hear more from the British Prime Minister and an open debate among ourselves before proceeding further.”

Critics have also warned any deal Mr Cameron could get is still likely to be struck down by the European Court of Justice as it runs against rules that mean no EU citizen can be discriminated against due to their nationality in any other EU country.


The Prime Minister’s demands will be debated at an EU summit this month

There is presently no consensus on the request that people coming to Britain from the EU must live there and contribute for four years before they qualify for in-work benefits or social housing

European Council president Donald Tusk

The Prime Minister is hoping to reform Britain’s ties with Brussels ahead of a promised in/out referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, due before the end of 2017.Mr Cameron has already suffered a blow over his chances of winning a deal, as he was last week forced to admit there would be noagreement this year as he had previously hoped.

Instead, the earliest the European Council will form a blueprint for EU reform will be in February, when Mr Tusk said he hoped for a “concrete proposal” to be adopted.

This will push back the likely date of the in/out vote until next Autumn.

Eurosceptics pointed to yesterday’s opposition to the Prime Minister’s demands by Mr Tusk as a further sign a ‘sham’ renegotiation exercise was being played out in front of the British public.

Mr Tusk told EU national heads of governments “good progress” had been made over the Prime Minister’s requests despite his admission there was a need to “overcome the substantial political differences that we still have on the issue of social benefits and free movement”.The president gave Mr Cameron greater hope over his other demands for a ‘two-speed’ EU split between euro and non-euro member states; a greater drive for competitiveness in the EU; and an opt-out from the EU’s fundamental principle of ‘ever closer union’.

Mr Tusk described Britain’s possible exit from the EU – known as Brexit – as a “destabilising factor” for the 28-member-bloc as it faces a number of other crises, such as the Greek debt crisis, migrant crisis and souring relations with Russia.

He added: “That is why we must find a way to answer the British concerns as quickly as possible.

“In times when geopolitics is back in Europe, we need to be united and strong. This is in our common interest and in the interest of each and every EU Member State.

“The UK has played a constructive and important role in the development of the European Union and I am sure that it will continue to do so in the future.”

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