Downing Street described wrangling over the new deal in Brussels as “hard going” - but David Cameron emerged with a positive message and claimed his graft will earn Britain “special status” in Europe. What does the agreement include?
:: CHILD BENEFIT
Host nations can cut migrants’ child benefit payments for children living overseas to the rate paid in their home countries - usually far lower than those received by UK parents.
:: MIGRANT WELFARE PAYMENTS:
Britain can pull an “emergency brake” and halt in-work benefit payments for migrants in the event of “exceptional” levels of migration - recognised by the Commission as happening in the UK right now - which could put pressure on social security systems, labour markets or public services. Migrants would then receive their benefits incrementally. However, after seven years the brake must be released - without exception.
Britain can keep the pound while being in Europe and its business trade with the bloc without fear of discrimination. Any British money spent on bailing out eurozone nations will be reimbursed and any state can raise the alarm with the European Council if concerned over eurozone decisions.
“Ever closer union” meaning a legal commitment to “political integration” remains, however it no longer applies to Britain and Parliament can wave a “red card” that requires the Council to consider legislation - if the UK can muster support equivalent to 55% of the 28-nation bloc.
The settlement calls on all EU institutions and member states to “make all efforts to fully implement and strengthen the internal market” and to take “concrete steps towards better regulation”, including by cutting red tape.
Elements of the agreement relating to relations between euro “ins” and “outs” and to the UK’s exemption from the requirement for ever-closer union will be incorporated into the EU’s treaties “at the time of their next revision”.
:: FREE MOVEMENT:
Measures to tackle sham marriages for residence by denying free movement rights to nationals of a country outside the EU who marry an EU national, and powers to exclude people believed to be a security risk - even if they have no previous convictions.
:: WHEN DO THEY COME IN?
All of the reforms included in the agreement take effect on the day when the UK votes to Remain in the EU and informs the secretary-general of the European Council of the result of the referendum.
:: A RESULT FOR THE PRIME MINISTER?
Mr Cameron said on Friday that the changes fulfilled the reform objectives in the Conservatives’ general election manifesto and were “legally binding” and irreversible without the agreement of all EU member states - including the UK.