EU leaders reach deal to give UK special status in EU

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 09:32 GMT, Feb 20, 2016 |

European leaders on Friday night reached a deal on British Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposed reforms to give UK special status in the EU after marathon talks.

“We have just achieved a deal which strengthens Britain’s special status in the European Union. It is a legally binding and irreversible decision by all 28 leaders. The settlement addresses all of Prime Minister Cameron’s concerns without compromising our fundamental values. We have sent out the signal that we are all willing to sacrifice part of our interests for the common good to show our unity,” said President of the European Council Donald Tusk at the press conference following the two-day EU summit.

Tusk said Britain and the EU are interdependent, but whether Britain will remain in the EU is up to the British people.

“I deeply believe that the United Kingdom needs Europe and Europe needs the United Kingdom. To break the link now would be totally against our mutual interests. We have done all we could not to let that happen, but the final decision is in the hands of the British people,” said Tusk.

According to sources, the EU allows Britain to limit benefits for EU workers in Britain and exempt the country from further integration into the union.

British Prime Minister David Cameron was satisfied with the decision and said he would recommend to the cabinet that the UK stay in the EU.

EU heads of state and governments met Thursday and Friday to thrash out a legally binding agreement on EU reforms to keep UK in the 28-nation bloc.

Cameron has demanded EU reform in four areas including economic governance, competitiveness, sovereignty and social benefits, and free movement.