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Agreement reached in Brussels in order to avoid Brexit

This Thursday’s newspapers continue to widely report that European Council President Donald Tusk yesterday released a proposal in response to demands laid down by UK Prime Minister David Cameron for a renegotiation of the UK’s European Union membership. During his speech at the European Parliament, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker characterised Donald Tusk’s plan as fair for the UK, the other 27 EU member states and the European institutions, Skai radio and Jornal de Negócios report.

The Times, as well as several other media, add that Jean-Claude Juncker said yesterday that David Cameron was allowed to present an “emergency brake” on EU migration because of the “damage done” by his predecessor, Tony Blair, when he allowed Eastern Europeans to massively enter the country in 2004. According to Magyar Hírlap, Jean-Claude Juncker, told MEPs that they should support the UK-EU settlement to keep Britain in the EU. La Première and point out that Donald Tusk’s plan needs to be ratified by all the EU member states. Thus, EU leaders are expected to discuss the proposal at the European Council meeting on 18-19 February.

The story is much debated in British media. The Guardian reports that migration and economics experts have said it will have little effect, while in a separate storyThe Times reports that Eurosceptics have said it could prove counter-productive. Meanwhile a Guardian editorial calls for Cameron and his fellow pro-Europeans to campaign for a “yes” vote more vociferously. And the Telegraph’s front page reports that it, along with YouTube and Buzzfeed, is urging Cameron to hold a public debate ahead of the referendum. The Irish Times reports that David Cameron has faced criticism from within his party about his draft reform agreement with the EU, but senior EU figures are optimistic that a deal will be done at a summit in two weeks’ time.

Other EU media also give their view on the story. Le Monde writes that British Prime Minister David Cameron may have won the battle, but not the war. Indeed while the pre-agreement put forward by Brussels answers all of his demands for the “improvement” of the EU, Cameron will have to wait before kicking off his “Yes” campaign to keep the UK in the EU. In his editorial in Tageblatt Guy Kemp writes that this agreement marks the beginning of the end of Europe as most EU countries will be willing to receive special treatment. According to Postimees, ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt strongly criticised the measure, commenting that we should not allow for emergency breaks every time a national leader has problems with public opinion.

Several media, notably Le Figaro and the British media, write that the whole negotiation was a “farce” as the actual tug of war is opposing David Cameron to British MPs within his own party. In an op-ed in SZ, Alexander Hagelüken understands the wide criticism against the agreement, but claims that it is very important to avoid a Brexit by all means. A collective of historians in the UK and Europe write in Le Monde that the EU is Great Britain’s natural place. Leaving would indeed weaken the country and would have irreparable consequences for the future of Continental Europe.

In a commentary piece in El Pais, Luís Bassets writes that the deal upholds the idea of a two-speed Europe while allowing EU countries to back down on integration. The journalist Tobias Wikström, writes in an editorial for Dagens Industri that the draft agreement between the UK and the EU is a success for David Cameron, and that its content is also good for Europe.


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