The protracted renegotiation of the terms of the UK’s relationship with the EU at the European Council summit paved the way for the UK referendum.
As anticipated, the renegotiation of the terms of the UK’s relationship with the EU at the European Council summit in Brussels on 18-19 February 2016 proved fractious, but ultimately paved the way for a UK referendum on 23 June 2016.
The European Council, made up of the Heads of State or Government of the 28 EU Member States, finally reached agreement on the matters raised by the UK following 15 hours of discord.
The four “packages”
David Cameron’s four demands for a reformed EU related to:
- economic governance
- welfare payments for non-UK EU citizens
- competitiveness, and
There were additional calls from Belgium and France for a “self-destruct” clause, confirming that no further concessions would be forthcoming from the EU, effectively excluding a second negotiation and referendum and dissuading other EU Member States from seeking concessions on membership. Ultimately, this was not included in the text of the draft Decision, which the Heads of State or Government declared to be legally binding and which will take effect if the UK announces that it will remain a member of the EU following the referendum.
As expected, the economic governance and social welfare issues proved particularly intractable.
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