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.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • UN chief: Saudi coalition attacks killed children in Yemen

    World News CTV News
    Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says in a draft report that the Saudi-led coalition was responsible for more than half the children killed and injured in Yemen's civil war last year. The report, obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, said the United Nations verified 1,340 casualties and attributed 683 -- representing 51 per cent -- to attacks carried out by the coalition. Source
  • What we know so far about the terror attack in Barcelona

    World News CTV News
    What we know so far about the terror attack in Barcelona Barcelona attack: Van driver kills 13, injures 100 Source
  • Quebec's debate on religious accommodation turns to buses, subway

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Quebec's public transportation systems are the latest target in the ongoing debate in the province over religion and identity. Neither Montreal's transit authority nor unions representing bus and subway drivers wanted to comment Thursday on speculation that women wearing the Islamic niqab or burqa will be prevented from using public transportation. Source
  • In light and darkness, cities pay tribute to Barcelona victims

    World News CTV News
    Cities across the world used their landmarks to pay respect to those killed in a deadly van attack in one of Barcelona’s busiest districts on Thursday. In some cases, global landmarks were lit up in red and yellow, the colours of the Spanish flag. Source
  • Some New Brunswick lobster fishermen park boats in protest of low prices

    Canada News CTV News
    SHEDIAC, N.B. -- Some lobster fishermen in eastern New Brunswick tied up their boats and remained onshore Thursday in a protest over the prices they're getting for lobster. Fishermen in ports such as Pointe-Sapin and Richibucto remained at the docks, saying landings are down and prices are low. Source
  • 'You could see all the bodies lying through Las Ramblas'; At least 13 killed after van plows into pedestrians in ISIS-claimed Barcelona attack [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    BARCELONA, Spain — A white van jumped the sidewalk Thursday in Barcelona’s historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. In a photograph shown by public broadcaster RTVE, three people were lying on the ground in the street of the northern Spanish city Thursday afternoon, apparently being helped by police and others. Source
  • Alberta trade minister says NAFTA talks no threat to oil and gas industry

    Canada News CTV News
    CALGARY -- Alberta's minister of trade says Canada's oil and gas industry has little to worry about as wide-ranging North American trade negotiations get underway. Speaking Thursday after a conference of state governments in Tacoma, Wash. Source
  • Amid the Washington circus, there’s boring NAFTA

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    So many distractions. Confederate statues in the United States are being toppled like chess pieces in the wake of hard-left-hard-right rioting in Charlottesville, Va. This provoked a double tweet from President Donald Trump. Part 1: “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. Source
  • Federal government program to match funds for East Africa garners $21.3M in donations

    Canada News CBC News
    International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau says a federal program to match donations for the East African famine generated $21.3 million from Canadians. The amount is one of the smallest responses to a Canadian government matching donation program since they initiated the idea for the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 — and at least one aid agency thinks the distraction of the political drama in the United States might bear some of the blame. Source
  • Deal reached in landmark lawsuit over harsh CIA interrogations

    World News CTV News
    SPOKANE, Wash. -- A settlement has been reached in a landmark lawsuit that the American Civil Liberties Union brought against two psychologists involved in designing the CIA's harsh interrogation program used in the war on terror. Source