Britain says 'more work' needed on EU reform demands

1st February 2016, Comments 0 comments

"More work" is needed on Britain's four demands for reforming its membership of the European Union ahead of a planned referendum, Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman said Monday.

"We are making progress but there's more work to do in all four areas -- more work in some areas than others," Cameron's spokesman told reporters.

His remarks came as British and EU officials were holding "intensive" talks in Brussels to seal a deal on changes to Britain's membership of the crisis-hit bloc by the end of the day.

Should the talks in Brussels succeed, European Council president Donald Tusk is hoping to issue a draft proposal for other EU leaders this week which will be discussed at a key summit on February 18.

London's bid to alter its membership of the EU has sparked turmoil, coming as the 28-nation alliance struggles with the biggest influx of migrants since World War II and the ongoing fallout over the eurozone debt crisis.

The four demands include protecting EU countries like Britain that are not part of the euro single currency, ensuring greater EU economic competitiveness, opting out of the goal of ever closer union and restricting access to benefits for EU workers in Britain.

Cameron's spokesman hailed as "substantial" signals from the European Commission that it could put forward a proposal to restrict social welfare payments for EU workers for up to four years.

"But there is more hard work to be done," he added.

Cameron's spokesman aksi said it was up to Tusk to decide when to publish the draft proposal, with a European source suggesting there could be "something tomorrow".

Underlining the challenges ahead, Paris has reportedly threatened to block some of the proposals relating to the euro.

"To French officials, any provisions giving non-euro countries power to indefinitely stall eurozone votes are unacceptable," the Financial Times reported, saying France would reject any "backdoor veto" for the City of London finance hub.

But Cameron's spokesman played down the report.

"We're not seeking to stand in the way of further euro integration," he said.

"It's not about the UK being able to veto further eurozone integration, it's about having clear principles on the way for enforcing it," he added.

© 2016 AFP

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