Cameron heads into 'make-or-break' summit with EU membership at stake

BRUSSELS -- Prime Minister David Cameron opened Thursday's European Union summit with a vow to be "battling for Britain" as he seeks a deal to fundamentally reform the EU to make sure a U.K.

See Full Article

referendum on continued British membership can be won.

"It is going to be hard," Cameron said as he got to a two-day summit which could determine the future of the island nation within the 28-nation bloc.

Facing Cameron's demands for less Europe, more London in his national decision-making stood French President Francois Hollande, who insisted there should be no way that Britain can hold up intense EU co-operation in the future.

"I want Britain to stay in the EU. But I hope most of all that Europe can advance, can be stronger," said Hollande. "And that no chief of state or government could stop that. We cannot stop Europe from advancing."

Even if Cameron said he would not stop other EU members taking the road for more unity, he insisted Britain should have ironclad guarantees to stay on the sidelines.

He hinted he would walk away from the summit unless a deal met his demands for more sovereign decision-making for member states.

"If we can get a good deal, I will take that deal but I will not take a deal that doesn't meet what we need," he said. "With goodwill, with hard work, we can get a better deal for Britain."

With as many as four core issues still outstanding, EU President Donald Tusk declared hours before the opening session: "This is a make-or-break summit, I have no doubts."

Tusk said that both sides were still "in the middle of still very difficult and sensitive negotiations," as the summit centre not only started filling with leaders but also legal experts who would have to pour any decision into binding legal texts.

The lingering disputes over anything from the reinforcement of national sovereignty to child benefits belie the fact that none of the other member states wants to see the departure of Britain, an economic and diplomatic giant in a struggling EU.

Britain has been an increasingly half-hearted member over the past decades, staying out of both the common euro currency and the borderless Schengen zone. The perception of increasing meddling of Brussels into affairs many Britons long considered sovereign issues made the time ripe for a referendum.

Still, Cameron is convinced that if the right reforms are approved during the summit, the 28-nation EU will be good for Britain and he will campaign for an in-vote in the referendum, which could come as soon as June.

He has relentlessly consulted with EU leaders over the past months to get close to a deal on reform many would have thought impossible.

But Nigel Farage, leader of the U.K. Independence Party, said the changes the British leader was seeking were trivial.

"It's not worth a row of beans, whatever he gets," Farage told the AP in Brussels Thursday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that it was in Germany's national interest for Britain to remain in the EU. "I'm going into this debate with the position that we would like to do everything to create the conditions so that Great Britain can remain part of the European Union," she said.

Merkel said Britain is an ally for Germany in promoting competitiveness and free trade, and that Europe needs Britain's foreign and security policy commitment.


Latest Canada & World News

  • Ont. police lay charges in five investigations into social media threats

    Canada News CTV News
    Provincial police says five people have been charged with allegedly making threats against Ontario schools on social media. Police say they conducted six separate investigations into threats in the province's central division over the past few weeks, five of which resulted in charges. Source
  • Austrian faces fine for calling police officers 'smurfs'

    World News CTV News
    BERLIN - An Austrian man faces a 160-euro ($197) fine for describing police officers as "smurfs" in a warning about speed checks posted on Facebook. The Austria Press Agency reported Tuesday that authorities in Tyrol province imposed the fine on the man, whose name wasn't released, for violating "public decency" by "defaming two police officers. Source
  • Emboldened Xi Jinping lays out warning for Taiwan

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING -- President Xi Jinping vowed Tuesday to protect "every inch" of China's territory, improve the lives of its people and promote the resurgence of Chinese culture and creativity as he kicked off his second term, poised to rule indefinitely. Source
  • Kim Jong Nam murder suspect thought smearing face was prank, lawyer says

    World News CTV News
    SHAH ALAM, Malaysia - A Vietnamese woman accused of killing the North Korean leader's estranged half brother told police she realized she had been used to murder him after she was detained, her lawyer said Tuesday. Source
  • Package bound for Austin, site of recent bombings, explodes at Texas facility

    World News CBC News
    One employee was injured when a package containing nails and shrapnel, that was bound for Austin, Texas, exploded at a Texas FedEx facility, the local fire department said. The package exploded shortly after midnight local time at a distribution facility in Schertz, Texas, outside of San Antonio, about 100 kilometres south of Austin, the San Antonio Fire Department said in a Tweet. Source
  • Iraq recovers bodies of 38 Indians abducted by IS in 2014

    World News CTV News
    BAGHDAD - Iraqi authorities have discovered a mass grave with the bodies of 38 Indian construction workers abducted when Islamic State militants overran the northern city of Mosul in 2014, officials said Tuesday. The bodies were found buried near the village of Badush, northwest of Mosul, in an area that Iraqi forces recaptured last July. Source
  • U.K. investigating Cambridge Analytica, Facebook

    World News CTV News
    LONDON - Britain's information commissioner says she is using all her legal powers to investigate the handling of millions of people's personal Facebook data by the social media giant and by political campaign consultants Cambridge Analytica. Source
  • U.S., South Korea to resume joint military exercises

    World News CBC News
    Annual U.S.-South Korean military drills that infuriate North Korea will begin on April 1, the allies said Tuesday, but they will likely be more low-key than past years ahead of two highly anticipated summits among the countries' leaders. Source
  • Trump Organization partner in India accused of bilking investors out of millions

    World News CTV News
    NEW DELHI - An Indian company that is partnering with the Trump Organization on an office tower project has been accused of running an elaborate real estate swindle that cheated investors out of nearly $150 million, according to complaints filed with Indian authorities. Source
  • Police call Austin bombings random; arrest doesn't appear close

    World News CTV News
    AUSTIN, Texas - William Grote says the latest attack by a suspected serial bomber that has terrorized Austin for weeks left what appeared to be nails embedded in his grandson's knees. Police and federal agents said that the blast Sunday night triggered along a street by a nearly invisible tripwire suggests a "higher level of sophistication" than they have seen before in three early package bombs left on doorsteps, and means the carnage is now random, rather than targeted at someone in…