You are here

Cameron, Tusk see progress despite 'difficult' EU talks

European Council president Donald Tusk (right) shakes hands with British Prime Minister David Cameron during a bilateral meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels on Nov 29, 2015.

[BRUSSELS] British Prime Minister David Cameron and European Union president Donald Tusk hailed good progress in talks on London's EU reform goals despite difficulties in some areas, Cameron's office said Sunday.

With doubts growing that Britain can secure a deal in time for a full EU summit in December, Mr Tusk and Mr Cameron met Sunday on the sidelines of a Turkey-EU meeting in Brussels.

Mr Cameron has pledged to win key EU reforms before holding an in-out referendum on Britain's place in the 28-nation bloc by the end of 2017 at the latest, and possibly by mid-2016.

"The prime minister and the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, discussed the UK renegotiation in a bilateral meeting after the EU-Turkey summit," a spokesman for Cameron said in a statement.

"They agreed that we continue to make good progress.

"While some areas are more difficult than others, discussions are ongoing with member states to find solutions and agree reforms in all four areas outlined in the PM's letter to the European Council president.

"These discussions will continue in the coming days, including with bilaterals between the PM and other European leaders in Paris tomorrow, and all EU leaders will have a substantive discussion of the UK renegotiation at next month's European Council as planned."

European sources said this week that it was difficult to see a deal being reached at the December EU summit at this stage.

In a major speech earlier this month outlining Britain's demands for change following pressure from EU leaders, Mr Cameron warned he was ready to "think again" about British membership if he could not strike a deal.

Among proposals he laid out are: improved competitiveness, greater "fairness" between eurozone and non-eurozone nations and sovereignty issues including an exemption from the aspiration of ever-closer union.

Most controversial is the demand to ban EU migrants to Britain from claiming certain state benefits for four years after arriving.