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Facts on EU 'Brexit' proposals

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(BRUSSELS) - European Council head Donald Tusk on Tuesday unveiled a package of EU reforms demanded by British Prime Minister David Cameron in return for backing the country's continued membership of the bloc.

Here are the main points of the Tusk reform package which will now have to be agreed with Cameron's 27 EU peers at a summit on February 18-19.

- LOTS OF PAPER -

EU leaders will have to wade through a thicket of paperwork in the next two weeks: Tuesday's letter from Tusk spelling out the proposals; a draft decision of EU leaders that will be legally binding; a declaration on competitiveness, and three European Commission declarations.

- EURO 'INS' VERSUS 'OUTS' -

Britain is not part of the 19-nation euro single currency bloc and jealously guards the pound and the City of London, one of the world's largest financial centres, against any encroachment by Brussels.

France, however, has led opposition to anything that would impinge on eurozone decision-making.

Tusk spells out a mutual accommodation -- non-euro countries must help, not hinder, eurozone integration in exchange for their rights as non-euro states being recognised.

Recognising their rights, however, does not mean non-euro countries would be able to "veto nor delay urgent (eurozone) decisions," Tusk says in a letter outlining the proposals.

Non-euro states will also have a guarantee against contributing to any bailouts of debt-stricken eurozone nations.

In addition, the EU will aim to increase its economic competitiveness -- another of Cameron's demands -- by cutting red tape and reducing undue burdens on business.

- SOVEREIGNTY -

As with the euro, Britain has chafed at oversight from Brussels and Cameron wants a clear opt-out from the bloc's onwards march towards "ever closer union".

"It is recognised that the United Kingdom, in the light of the specific situation it has under the (EU) treaties, is not committed to further political integration," the text of the Tusk proposals says.

To give that provision more teeth, national parliaments will be able to challenge and reject EU legislation if they can muster a 55 percent majority among the 28 member states under a "red card" system.

The EU's current "yellow card" system -- using a term taken from football -- only allows parliaments to demand an explanation of EU laws.

An EU official said this simple majority mechanism meant all member states would be put on an equal footing -- Malta's parliament, for example, would have as much say as Germany's Bundestag.

Economic powerhouse Germany is often criticised for supposedly bullying smaller member states who lose out under the EU's qualified majority system.

Elements of this could be included in the EU's treaties the next time they are opened, for example when a new state is admitted.

- MIGRATION/WELFARE CURBS -

Cameron's demand to curb welfare benefits to EU citizens working in Britain for four years is the biggest sticking point, with critics seeing it as undercutting the bloc's core principle of freedom of movement.

The draft concedes there is a "pull factor" whereby differing social security systems attract workers from less well off member states, distorting the single market where all are meant to be equal.

Accordingly, there will be an "alert and safeguard mechanism that responds to situations of inflow of workers... of an exceptional magnitude over an extended period of time".

Crucially, a member state can apply such a mechanism for up to four years but the text notes that such limitations should be gradually reduced over that period.

The provision will apply to all member states, who will have to ask for clearance in the European Council and the European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, before going to a qualified majority vote of EU states.

However, in practice EU officials say they expect only Britain to qualify and to apply.

On this issue, Tusk stressed in his letter the need "to fully respect the current treaties, in particular the principles of freedom of movement and non-discrimination".

This would not involve treaty change as it is done through legislation drafted by the European Commission.


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The single market we are all meant to be equal

Posted by LYN WICK at 04 February 2016, 00:56 CET
The heading points out equal market for all . 28 EU countries need the same amount paid into the pot being the same equal payment .The EU committee should be one representative from each country with voting between 28 members as to Leader of the committee then the system would be equal . EQUAL not being EU ,s piggy bank and dictatorship in return. Accounts should be balanced and be seen by all countries in the EU . There is poverty in the UK ,Food banks to feed children ,homeless sleep in the street ,charity begins at home before we pay obscene amounts of money to your bottomless pit .

The single market we are all meant to be equal

Posted by ankur verma at 10 February 2016, 12:50 CET
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