EU's Tusk says expects deal in February to avoid 'Brexit'
European Union president Donald Tusk said on Monday he expects a deal at a summit in February to prevent Britain leaving the bloc, despite difficulties over London's demands to limit benefits for EU migrants.
In a letter to leaders ahead of a summit on December 18-19 when the issue will be discussed, Tusk said they were making progress on three main areas of EU reform that Britain wants to negotiate ahead of a membership referendum by the end of 2017.
But Tusk said there was "presently no consensus" on the fourth issue: British Prime Minister David Cameron's demand that EU migrants who come to work in Britain must live there for four years before qualifying for welfare benefits.
"The December European Council (summit) should address all the political dilemmas related to this process. Based on a substantive political discussion we should be able to prepare a concrete proposal to be finally adopted in February," Tusk said.
Tusk, the former Polish premier, called for a solution "as quickly as possible", adding that "uncertainty about the future of the UK in the European Union is a destabilising factor."
"Consultations have shown that the issues raised by the British Prime Minister are difficult. At the same time there is a strong will on the part of all sides to find solutions that respond to the British request while benefiting the European Union as a whole," he said.
© 2015 AFP