Britain’s EU renegotiation dominates agenda as Brussels summit is extended
LONDON – British Prime Minister David Cameron cancelled a cabinet meeting scheduled for Friday night as talks on his country’s EU renegotiation continued in Brussels without sign of an agreement.
European Union leaders spent much of Friday locked into bilateral talks as they attempted to bridge differences over Cameron’s demands, some of which are opposed by France and a group of Eastern European countries.
After negotiating on Thursday past midnight and into the following morning, the U.K. prime minister had been hoping to conclude a deal by lunchtime so that he could return to London and present it to ministers before announcing a date for a referendum on Britain’s EU membership.
But late on Friday afternoon Cameron tweeted: “Negotiations are continuing into this evening. A Cabinet meeting won’t be possible tonight. One will be held if and when a deal is done”.
The EU’s heads of states and governments will now meet for more talks over dinner, scheduled for 8 p.m. Brussels time [1900GMT].
Political advisers and journalists expecting the summit to end on Friday were being advised to extend their hotel bookings by another night.
Cameron is working to placate concerns from EU member states who oppose some of his key demands.
Four Eastern European countries — the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia — have rejected British proposals to curb welfare benefits for migrant workers within the EU.
France is concerned that another Cameron demand — no discrimination against EU member states that do not use the European single currency — could grant Britain a veto on eurozone matters.