The European council president, Donald Tusk, who is charged with delivering the deal on Thursday at Cameron’s most fateful EU summit, is embarking on intensive shuttle diplomacy across EU capitals on Monday as the leaders of #Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic meet in Prague to hammer out a common position on the “Brexit” deal.
EU officials say the leaders of the less wealthy eastern European countries will reject what is on offer if there is a chance that other EU states could take advantage of the concessions made to the UK by cutting social security #benefits for migrant EU workers. Legally, this is very difficult to fix, the sources said.
Tusk has struck his deal with Cameron and has no further talks scheduled with the UK. Instead, he is focusing on Paris, where resistance is strongest to George Osborne’s attempt to recast the balance of power between the City of London and the eurozone, and on eastern Europe, which in Tusk’s view is sacrificing the most to help keep Britain in the EU and needs solid guarantees on the limits of the deal. His mission, he is saying privately in Brussels, is “to build elementary empathy for David [Cameron]”.
The UK foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, confirmed on Sunday that major problems remained in the run-up to Thursday. “There isn’t a deal yet. There is a working draft, there are lots of moving parts and we’ve got a negotiation that will run through this week,” he told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show. “I have no doubt [it] will run right to the wire, with some of these things only being able to be decided by the heads of state and government on Thursday when they sit down in that room together.”
David Cameron’s attempt to secure new terms aimed at keeping Britain in the EU will collapse this week unless eastern European nations are guaranteed that the migrant welfare curbs won by the UK cannot be copied by other EU countries, according to officials familiar with the negotiations.