Prime Minister David Cameron has finally revealed his hand about the new deal he wants from the European Union for Britain.
His demands were immediately rebuffed by the European Commission and some other leaders as ‘highly problematic’ but an upbeat Cameron has pledged he is not on a Mission Impossible but out to boost prosperity and security for all the 28 member states.
The problem is the mainstay of his renegotiation of Britain’s terms with Europe is a call to stop migrants from other EU states claiming benefits in the UK until they have qualified with four years as resident in the country.
Thousands of these migrants flow into Britain from Eastern Europe, especially Poland, Romania and Hungary.
Such a major change undermines the EU principle of freedom of movement for citizens and requires ripping up and rewriting large sections of treaties between member states.
Already, the Eastern European nations have voiced their disapproval of the measure – and many doubt the change can happen within the two year deadline placed on the negotiations because many nations would require a referendum agreement from voters to do so.
In 2017, Cameron faces a simple in or out vote from the British public on whether the UK should remain in the EU.
Cameron said he felt his demands were easily achievable and he felt the EU would see sense and back his proposals.
However, he has won key backing from German leader Angela Merkel who voiced her confidence that the EU could work out the issues.
Not a Mission Impossible
Whatever the first reactions, no one should be naïve to think that Cameron has not already been working to stack the deck in his favour behind the scenes before launching his renegotiation offensive.
And of course, rival leaders are going to reject Cameron’s opening gambit as just that until they sit down around a table and horse trade favours.
“This is not just about benefits, but prosperity and security of all the nations in the EU for years to come,” said Cameron.
“This is not a Mission Impossible and we have some way to go yet, but I am confident that in time we will sit down with our partners and find a way through this.”