The full spectrum of issues to be discussed at the 18-19 European Summit was presented by president of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker at the EP plenary discussion today.
The president stressed the need for solidarity with Greece, that Turkey should lend a helping hand, the member states should clear the way for the 3 billion pledged and the EU should treat the underlying causes and not only the symptoms of the refugee crisis, ending the war in Syria. Juncker also presented the compromise proposed to the UK in order to lock a pro Europe vote in the upcoming referendum.
“Yesterday President Tusk presented his proposed new settlement for the United Kingdom in the European Union. Let me be clear from the start: the European Commission has been fully associated to the work on this settlement. The Commission`s best experts have worked over many months to find creative solutions. I have worked closely with President Tusk and Prime Minister Cameron to shape the proposal presented yesterday. Therefore, the Commission supports these texts. I have always said I wanted the UK to remain a member of the EU on the basis of a fair deal”, said Juncker
The president stressed that the settlement that has been proposed is fair for the United Kingdom, and fair for the other 27 Member States. He said that is also fair for the European Parliament which has a key stake in the process and “a crucial role to play”, he added, revealing that many of the MEPs have been involved already (like President Schulz, Manfred Weber, Gianni Pittella, Syed Kamall and Guy Verhofstadt amongst others).
As of Friday, according to Juncker the Sherpas will take part in the discussions leading up to the decisive European Council of the 18 February. President Schulz will be sitting at the table in the European Council.
Then he elaborated on the four pillars (or baskets as called by the UK side) of the proposed deal.
“Like Prime Minister Cameron, we all want the EU to become more competitive and to create more jobs”, said the president.
“We must not stifle innovation and competitiveness with regulations that are too prescriptive and too detailed, notably when it comes to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs),” he said stressing the need to complete the Single Market, build out Energy Union, complete the Digital Single Market and establish a Capital Markets Union.
“The United Kingdom benefits from more Protocols and opt-outs than any other Member State”, he explained.
The settlement recognizes that if the United Kingdom considers that it is now at the limits of its level of integration, while other Member States can move towards a deeper degree of integration, as they see fit. The proposed solution involves the national Parliaments to that end.
According to president Juncker “the most difficult discussions with Prime Minister Cameron related to free movement. The settlement addresses situations in which large scale movements of EU nationals are not related to the attractiveness of labor markets but to the structure and generosity of social security systems. We propose to create a safeguard mechanism, tailor-made to the concerns of the United Kingdom that would allow it to restrict the access of EU workers newly entering its labor market to in-work benefits in a graduated manner for a period of up to four years.”
In 2004, the United Kingdom did not use the transitional periods that would have allowed it to phase-in the right of free movement of the citizens of eight new Member States and as a result, over the past decade, the UK attracted record number of mobile EU citizens.
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY