The EU deal offered to David Cameron is non-negotiable, Francois Hollande says

Support for the deal on the UK side is underwhelming, however

Jon Stone
Thursday 04 February 2016 10:17
Francois Hollande
Francois Hollande

The package of EU reforms offered to David Cameron is non-negotiable and Britain will be offered no further concessions, the French President has said.

Francois Hollande warned that there would be “no new adjustments or new negotiations” to the draft package of measures, which include curbs on migrant benefits and red tape.

The warning comes as Mr Cameron meets with Mr Tusk again this morning in London to discuss efforts to get other EU leaders to sign up to the deal – a process which is still far from certain.

Despite Mr Hollande’s refusal to consider further changes, he was positive about the current package, referring to it as a “compromise”.

“We want the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union,” Mr Hollande told reporters, according to the AFP news agency.

“The compromise that has been found will likely allow us to find solutions to problems that until now seemed difficult to resolve.

“But at the European Council there can be no new adjustments or new negotiations.

"We have reached a point that should give Britons the reassurances needed while respecting European principles.”

Mr Hollande made the comments at a press conference after a meeting with Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo, whose support for the reform plan is far from certain.

Ms Szydlo had previously admitted to “substantial political differences” with Mr Cameron’s EU reform goals after holding late-night talks with him in December.

Public opinion in many central and eastern European countries is strongly against restrictions on migration to Britain as many have substantial migrant populations in the UK.

Politicians of all stripes in that region have stressed that any deal must not discriminate against their populations.

Mr Cameron also faces opposition to the deal at home as well as abroad. Eurosceptic Tory MPs and newspapers have branded the deal “thin gruel” and “a joke” while a poll conducted by Sky News found other two thirds of the public believe it is “bad for Britain”.

The PM pledged “hand on heart” earlier this week that he had achieved the renegotiation goals set out in his manifesto, but there are in fact substantial shortfalls – notably on a failure to totally ban EU migrants from claiming in-work benefits for four years.

The Conservatives have pledged to hold an EU referendum before the end of 2017 following the renegotiations, which were hoped to shore-up support for the UK remaining in Europe.

That referendum now looks likely to be held as early as this June.

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