With European leaders digging their heels in, the chance of an agreement by the end of the day is at best even

February 19, 2016 11:19 AM

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With European leaders digging their heels in, the chance of an agreement by the end of the day is at best even

DAVID CAMERON’S plan for the European Union summit on February 18th and 19th was simple enough. There would be a short squabble with the east Europeans over benefits for EU migrants to Britain, a quick battle with the French over protections for countries not in the euro and a brief row with Belgium over “ever closer union”, all of them designed to show that the prime minister was “battling for Britain”. Then there would be a deal (over what Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, promised would be an English breakfast), enabling him to race back in time to hold a cabinet meeting on Friday afternoon, after which he would announce that the referendum on Britain’s EU membership would be held on June 23rd.

Yet like so many plans, this one did not survive first contact with the enemy. The east Europeans dug in their heels over the length of time that in-work benefits could be denied to EU migrants, and over plans to curb child benefits even for those already drawing them. François Hollande, the French ...

Also read: Britain promises close ties with Poland after EU exit

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