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Deal struck to keep Britain in EU

February 19, 2016

Britain and the EU have reached a deal to keep the Union's second largest economy in the bloc. British Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to aggressively push for the deal back home.

Brüssel EU Gipfel - David Cameron
Image: Getty Images/D. Kitwood

After marathon negotiations with his 27 European Union counterparts, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he had secured a "special status" agreement for Britain.

He said he would return to Britain and campaign vigorously for a "yes" vote for the country to stay in the EU. British voters are expected to vote on the issue on in a public referendum on June 23.

"There are many people who for years have been frustrated with the way Europe works and this deal addresses those concerns," Cameron said during a press conference. "These are significant changes and it gives us a chance to go forward."

Cameron noted that migrants would no longer be able to come to Britain and start collectng social benefits before they have even had time to look for work. Indeed, he said they won't have access to it for four years.

Brüssel EU Gipfel - Tusk & Juncker & Cameron
Cameron (R) negotiates with European Council President Donald Tusk (L) and EC President Jean Claude JunckerImage: Reuters/Y. Herman

Paradoxically, he also voiced support for the free movement of people and labor.

"We accept free movement under the EU and we benefit from that," he said. "This allows us to change how welfare and migration act together.

"People shouldn't be able to come in and claim unemployment benefits," he continued. "And if, after six months, they haven't found a job they should go back to the country they came from."

British Prime Minister David Cameron says the deal grants the UK a "special status" within the EU:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who leads the EU's largest economy voiced support for the deal, saying it would allow Britain, the EU's second largest economy to stay in the Union.

We believe that with this we have given David Cameron a package with which he can campaign in Britain for Britain to stay in the European Union," Merkel told journalists.

Consequences of a Brexit

Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen also celebrated the deal on Twitter, saying: "David Cameron fought hard for Britain. Good deal for UK and for EU. Congrats!"

The two-day summit, which focused on the negotiations with Britain stretched into late Friday night, more than 30 hours after Cameron had his first negotiating session.

rs/bw (dpa, Reuters)