Reports from the British foreign minister and senior EU officials suggest that a new deal between the EU and the UK could be struck within weeks.
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Friday that he is “quite sure” a deal will be reached at the February summit in Brussels. The deal will renegotiate the relationship between the UK and the EU and trigger an in-out referendum before the end of 2017.
The main issue preventing a deal is David Cameron’s commitment to making it more difficult for migrants to receive benefits, with the aim of restricting them to those that have been in the country for four years. However, opposition countries say that this violates the fundamental principle of free movement of peoples between EU countries. Jonathan Faull, who is leading the negotiations, said that the “the fundamental freedoms are not unconditional,” adding that there was an array of legislation already limiting them.