Spot the difference: New EU-UK deal is 99% the same

When David Cameron set out to achieve reform in the EU he said: ‘we need fundamental, far-reaching change'. But new research by Vote Leave has revealed that his deal will only make a 1% change to the Treaties.

That means that the UK’s relationship with the EU will be 99% the same if the deal actually comes into force. Given that EU judges and politicians can rip up the deal after the UK’s referendum, even achieving that 1% of change is very unlikely.

Commenting, Vote Leave Chief Executive Matthew Elliott said:

‘David Cameron’s deal will change the Treaties by a minuscule 1%. This is not the fundamental, far-reaching change the Prime Minister promised us.

‘The EU Treaties will still be 99% the same if this deal ever actually comes into force which is unlikely as it could be ripped up by EU judges and EU politicians.

‘The British people want to back control of our borders, economy and democracy - the only way to do that is to Vote Leave.’


Notes to editors

New research by Vote Leave shows David Cameron’s deal will do little to change our relationship with the EU. Even if his reforms are introduced, they will change just 1% of the Treaties. This means the EU Treaties would be 99% the same as they were before the renegotiation.

The Prime Minister claims that he has secured a legally binding commitment to change the Treaties in the future. However, in the words of Jean-Claude Piris, former head of the Council of Ministers’ legal service, a legally-binding commitment to change the Treaties at a later date is ‘called bullshit. There is no possibility to make a promise that would be legally binding to change the treaty later’ (Sunday Telegraph, 27 September 2015, link).

Possible future changes to the Treaties as a result of the renegotiation

It is worth analysing what changes to the EU Treaties would be made if the results of David Cameron’s renegotiation were added to the Treaties at a later date. The Treaty on the European Union (TEU), the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and the Protocols contain 108,256 words. The draft decision of the European Council states David Cameron’s renegotiation will add 1,040 words (European Council, 19 February 2016, link):

Adding the substance of section A of the Decision on ‘economic governance’ to the Treaties (955 words)

Ending the United Kingdom’s ‘commitment’ to ‘ever closer union’ (the first paragraph of section C of the Decision) (85 words).

If these changes were made, the Treaties would contain 109,296 words in total. The table summarises the results:


The renegotiation will not change the Treaties before the referendum despite Government promises

In his Bloomberg Speech in January 2013, the Prime Minister described how ‘the best way’ to give effect to his renegotiation ‘will be in a new Treaty’ (HM Government, 23 January 2013, link). In January 2014, he spoke of ‘Treaty change that I’ll be putting in place before the referendum’ (Daily Telegraph, 5 January 2014, link). A year later, David Cameron affirmed that his plans ‘do involve … proper, full-on treaty change’ (Guardian, 4 January 2015, link).

These promises have been broken. On 16 November 2015, the Minister for Europe, David Lidington, stated that ‘our timetable for referendum by the end of 2017 means that you just cannot [have] treaty negotiation and 28 national ratifications within that timeframe’ (Herald Scotland, 16 November 2015, link). In January 2016, the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, said ‘we know we cannot have it before the referendum; that is impossible’ (Guardian, 18 January 2016, link).

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