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Czech PM: Draft agreement with Britain includes positive shifts

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Prague, Feb 18 (CTK) – The latest draft agreement of the EU with Britain includes some positive shifts, Czech Prime Minister Sobotka told journalists before leaving for Brussels yesterday, adding that Czechs still had some reservations about the deal.

The assurance that the change in the welfare benefits will only relate to child benefits is a shift, Sobotka said.

“Today’s draft agreement with Britain, submitted last night, includes some positive shifts. But this is still not what the Czech Republic wishes,” Sobotka said.

“One shift is that the European Commission has assured EU countries that a change in the welfare system will not relate to other things than the child benefits,” he added.

The latest draft text has been posted online by Financial Times.

“The Commission does not intend to propose that the future system of optional indexation of child benefits be extended to other types of exportable benefits, such as old-age pensions,” the paper wrote.

Sobotka said this was an obliging step.

“We would hate the discussion to be shifted to other benefits that are paid to the employees working in a different EU member,” Sobotka said.

Not only the central and eastern European countries, but also other ones have problems with the current form of the draft, Sobotka said.

The exact number of the “allies” will only be obvious after the first round of the discussion, he said.

Sobotka also told journalists that he fully understood the reasons for which Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had decided not to leave for Brussels after the terrorist attacks in Turkey.

Turkey is the key partner for the EU in the search for a solution to the migrant crisis, the other big issue on the summit’s agenda.

The EU summit starts at 16:00. It will deal with the migrant crisis and Britain’s proposals to implement changes in the EU it demands in connection with its referendum on staying in the EU.

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