EU leaders not happy with 'Brexit' offer: sources
No European leaders are satisfied so far with proposals for a deal to keep Britain in the EU, which Prime Minister David Cameron hopes to secure at a summit this month, sources close to the negotiations told AFP.
Initial reactions from European capitals show that "nobody's happy" with the draft agreement that European Union president Donald Tusk unveiled on Monday, one European source said on condition of anonymity.
The lack of satisfaction so far is a sign that Tusk's proposal is fair and balanced, but also an indication that it could be hard to reach a deal at the February 18-19 meeting of the 28 EU leaders, the source added.
Cameron, who is aiming to hold a referendum on Britain's EU membership in June, met Tusk on the margins of a Syria donor conference in London on Thursday.
The British prime minister is now set to fly to Poland and Denmark on Friday at the start of a whirlwind fortnight of diplomacy in a bid to win over his sceptical EU counterparts and secure an accord.
European diplomats in Brussels are set to hold their first full talks on the new proposals on Friday, and will meet again next Thursday in a bid to iron out their differences and reach an agreement at the summit.
Cameron has meanwhile been in frequent contact with French President Francois Hollande, who warned on Wednesday that there should be no more changes to the deal at the summit itself, and has expressed concern over Tusk's proposals for protections for non-eurozone countries.
A British government source said however that "the mood is improving on that."
Spain is meanwhile dissatisfied with the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU headed by Jean-Claude Juncker, for not taking a tougher line on Cameron's demands for a limit to benefits for EU migrants working in Britain, another European source said.
Tusk's proposals include a four-year "emergency brake" limiting welfare payments to migrants, as well as "red card" system for national parliaments to overrule draft EU laws.
Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia have previously expressed concerns over the welfare plan, saying it would discriminate against hundreds of thousands of their citizens who currently work in Britain.
© 2016 AFP