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Cameron Reaches New Deal On Britain's EU Status


British Prime Minister David Cameron says a deal he made last night with other European leaders in Brussels will protect the U.K. from being taken over by Europe's ever-closer union. But as NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports, the British leader still has to persuade his cabinet, the parliament and British voters that the new agreement is enough reason for them to stay in the EU.

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: David Cameron says the deal addresses most of his concerns about Britain being in the European Union.


DAVID CAMERON: We will be in the parts of Europe that work for us, influencing the decisions that affect us, in the driving seat of the world's biggest market and with the ability to take action to keep our people safe.

NELSON: The prime minister says the measures also protect British taxpayers from having to bail out the eurozone and seeing generous British welfare benefits go to EU migrants who move there.


CAMERON: And I think they do create a more flexible Europe, more of a live and let live arrangement that recognizes that one size does not fit all.

NELSON: Other European leaders weren't as thrilled about the deal but tried to cast it in a good light.


JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER: One of our greatest achievements, a single market that serves half a billion people, remains intact.

NELSON: He was less enthusiastic about giving Cameron a green light to slash welfare benefits for EU immigrants to Britain over the next seven years. Opponents argue it violates the bloc's core tenets of free movement and equal rights. But EU President Donald Tusk says concessions are necessary if Britain is to stay in the block.


DONALD TUSK: We have sent out a signal that we are all willing to sacrifice part of our interest for the common good to show our unity.

NELSON: Whether it will be enough to convince British skeptics remains unclear. Many there accuse Brussels of being overly meddlesome and bureaucratic. Cameron has promised to let British voters decide whether or not to stay in the European Union. That referendum is expected in June. Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Berlin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Special correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is based in Berlin. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and read at NPR.org. From 2012 until 2018 Nelson was NPR's bureau chief in Berlin. She won the ICFJ 2017 Excellence in International Reporting Award for her work in Central and Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.