23 Feb 2016

The EU deal to avoid Brexit: Take it or leave

Stefani Weiss / Steven Blockmans

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Authors: Stefani Weiss and Steven Blockmans

Series: CEPS Special Report   No of pp: 63

Beyond the drama of the European Council summit of 18-19 February 2016, what became clear was the fundamental desire on the part of the leaders of all 28 EU member states to agree a deal on the British government’s demands for a renegotiated settlement on the UK’s relationship within the European Union. The deal has provided David Cameron with the political capital he needed to call a date for the in/out referendum and to lead a campaign for the UK to stay in the EU. Yet, for all the technical reforms packed into it, the deal is neither a crowd pleaser nor a vote winner. It does, however, mark a watershed acknowledgement that EU integration is not a one-directional process of ‘ever closer union’.

In this CEPS Special Report, Stefani Weiss and Steven Blockmans analyse the substance of the “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” and shed light on its legal character. They contextualise this EU deal to avoid Brexit, and draw on the conclusions reached in a simulation of European Council negotiations between representatives of think tanks in the European Policy Institutes Network (EPIN), conducted by CEPS and the Bertelsmann Stiftung in October 2015.

Stefani Weiss is Director of the Brussels Office of the Bertelsmann Stiftung. Steven Blockmans is Head of EU Foreign Policy at CEPS.