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Debate Pack: European Affairs

Published Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The House of Commons Library prepares a briefing in hard copy and/or online for most non-legislative debates in the Chamber and Westminster Hall other than half-hour debates.  Debate Packs are produced quickly after the announcement of parliamentary business. They are intended to provide a summary or overview of the issue being debated and identify relevant briefings and useful documents, including press and parliamentary material. More detailed briefing can be prepared for Members on request to the Library.

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On 19 February 2016, after months of negotiations, David Cameron reached agreement with his EU counterparts on a legally binding Decision to address the UK’s concerns about its future EU membership. The full set of texts adopted as part of the New Settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union are set out in the European Council Conclusions:

  1. Decision of the Heads of State or Government, meeting within the European Council, concerning a new settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union; 
  2. Statement containing a draft Council Decision on specific provisions relating to the effective management of the banking union and of the consequences of further integration of the euro area which will be adopted on the day the Decision referred to in point (a) takes effect; 
  3. Declaration of the European Council on competitiveness; 
  4. Declaration of the Commission on a subsidiarity implementation mechanism and a burden reduction implementation mechanism; 
  5. Declaration of the European Commission on the indexation of child benefits exported to a Member State other than that where the worker resides;
  6. Declaration of the Commission on the safeguard mechanism referred to in paragraph 2(b) of Section D of the Decision of the Heads of State or Government;
  7. Declaration of the Commission on issues related to the abuse of the right of free movement of persons.

This Settlement will be the basis for the UK referendum on EU membership on 23 June 2016. To summarise, the package allows the UK to apply an emergency brake on EU citizens using free movement laws to come to the UK; restricts access to in-work benefits for up to seven years; links payment of child benefit for children not resident in the UK to the economy of their resident State; ensures equal treatment for Eurozone and non-Eurozone States in measures providing for more Eurozone integration; applies a single rulebook to all credit institutions and other financial institutions to ensure a level-playing field in the internal market; recognises that the UK is not committed to further EU political integration (“ever closer union”); promises to reduce the burden on business and provides a mechanism for national parliaments to object to Commission proposals (“red card”).

The European Council also discussed measures to tackle the migration crisis, Syria and Libya.

Commons Debate packs CDP-2016-0048

Authors: Nigel Walker; Vaughne Miller

Topics: EU institutions, EU law and treaties, EU political integration

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