BRUSSELS – Will the EU's offer be enough to keep Britain in the European Union? That remains to be seen. The proposals contain no changes to the EU's governing treaties, but Britain does win some concessions, notably a green light to limit benefits for migrants.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and the bloc's other leaders hope to seal agreement at a summit in Brussels starting on Feb. 18. In typical EU fashion, any agreement is certain to contain language that will allow all sides to claim victory.
Here are the main points:
LIMITING BENEFITS FOR EU MIGRANTS
Cameron has made limiting British welfare payments to workers from other EU countries a centerpiece of his clash with the EU. The plan provides for a special "emergency brake" that Britain could use exceptionally when too many workers are coming in — and the EU's executive Commission says data show they already are. That's a virtual green light for Britain to limit benefits as soon as the deal is sealed.
GETTING POWERS BACK FROM BRUSSELS
The EU's founding treaties refer to the goal of creating "an ever closer union." The plan underlines that this does not mean extending the powers of the EU or centralizing sovereignty in Brussels. The leaders would agree that countries can integrate at their own pace, and that Britain "is not committed to further political integration." Any draft legislation that might interfere with national sovereignty could be debated and possibly revised if 55 percent of the 28 national EU parliaments oppose it.
SORTING OUT THE ECONOMY
Britain is not part of the 19-nation bloc using the euro single currency but it's a major European financial center. Cameron has sought to ensure that the eurogroup does not act to the detriment of those outside. The plan would outlaw any discrimination against those not in the eurozone and ensure that action taken by the 19 states respects the way the full European economy works. By the same token, non-euro countries would not be allowed to interfere in the group. Countries that aren't part of the euro won't need to pay for measures needed to protect the currency.
MAKING THE EU MORE COMPETITIVE
The EU has been on a drive to cut red tape in recent years. This plan places added emphasis on the need for the EU to compete better in the world economy and create more growth and jobs. Leaders would commit to repeal unnecessary legislation and cut costs for small and medium-sized enterprises. They would promise to monitor progress and make changes to legislation if needed.