Cameron, EU leaders still have 'lot to do' to reach deal

BRUSSELS -- British Prime Minister David Cameron forged ahead at tougher-than-expected talks with European partners Friday after meetings through the night failed to make much progress on his demands for a less intrusive European Union.

See Full Article

It's potentially a pivotal moment for the 28-nation bloc, which is proud of its decades of integration among once-enemy nations across Europe. At a tense summit in Brussels, Cameron and other EU leaders staked out firm positions -- in part to show voters back home that their interests are being defended.

"We've made some progress, but there's still no deal," Cameron said as he returned for talks just hours after wrapping up meetings at 5:30 a.m. "We're going to get back in there. We're going to do some more work -- and I'll do everything I can."

Many Britons question whether belonging to the bloc is still worth it, so Cameron is pushing for an EU reform deal that he hopes will persuade voters to back continued membership in a British referendum that could come as soon as June.

An EU-wide breakfast meeting that was to address Cameron's concerns was first delayed until lunch and then until mid-afternoon, as Cameron met with EU President Donald Tusk, Italy's Matteo Renzi and Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo in a bid to close the gap on issues including financial governance and welfare benefits.

A British official speaking on customary condition of anonymity said Friday morning that gaps had narrowed, but "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed."

Another European official said Friday that none of the sticking points had yet been resolved -- but no new problems had emerged either. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the consultations were confidential.

Tusk has said he is willing to continue meetings through the weekend if necessary. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said how long it took to get a deal depended on "what kind of deepness of drama countries would like to perform."

"But no matter what we do here, no matter what face-lifting or face-saving we perform here, it is up to the British people to decide," she said.

The draft deal offers guarantees to the nine EU countries, including Britain, that do not use the shared euro currency, that they will not be sidelined, and makes tweaks aimed at giving national parliaments more power.

Most of the tensions surround a relatively minor change: a move to suspend or restrict benefit payments made to workers from other EU countries.

Immigration is an especially sensitive point for British voters, because Britain has attracted hundreds of thousands of workers from Eastern Europe in the past decade, drawn by the prospect of higher-paying jobs. The EU immigrants can also claim child tax credits and other benefits in Britain, which Cameron's government says is straining his budget.

Cameron has proposed reducing one payment -- the child benefit, given to all families with children -- to migrants from other EU nations for as much as 13 years. Eastern countries want to limit the change to only three or four years, according to one European official involved in the talks.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the 13-year period "is very long, and it doesn't reflect the measure that is meant to have a temporary character."

Cameron has also run into unexpectedly firm resistance from France on financial regulation. French President Francois Hollande insisted Friday that Britain should not be given any "right of veto or blockage" and that all EU countries should have rules limiting speculation and avoiding new financial crises.

The 19 EU countries that share the euro currency worry that protections for Britain and the eight other non-eurozone nations would offer unfair advantage to Britain's financial centre, the City of London.

Hollande also warned that too-generous concessions to Britain could prompt other countries to seek special rules, too.

However, EU leaders ultimately want Britain, a major world economy, to stay in the bloc.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte argued Friday for the importance of keeping Britain's free-market voice in the EU.

A British exit "would be bad news for the EU -- but also for the U.K. It would end up as a mid-sized economy somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean," he said.

Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roives acknowledged that leaders at the summit are "pursuing our national interests" but said they all want Cameron to get the deal he needs.

Even if Cameron wins a deal, the referendum is expected to be close and hard-fought. Opponents have said his demands of the EU are too weak.

Tycoon Richard Branson argued Friday for Britain to stay in the EU.

"It would be very, very damaging for Great Britain ... and I think it would be the start, most likely, of the breakup of the European Union," he told Sky News.

Britain has stayed out of both the EU's euro currency and its passport-free Schengen travel zone, and many Britons resent what they see as Brussels increasingly meddling in sovereign issues.

Cameron said he would not stop other EU members striving for more unity, but insisted that Britain should have ironclad guarantees it could stay on the sidelines.

Angela Charlton and Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Mentally ill dad who killed 3 kids struggles with anger management: psychiatrist

    Canada News CTV News
    COQUITLAM, B.C. - A man found not criminally responsible for killing his three children because of a mental disorder is making slow progress but still faces serious anger issues, a psychiatrist says. Dr. Marcel Hediger told a British Columbia Review Board hearing Wednesday that it's unlikely he would recommend Allan Schoenborn be granted supervised outings into the community within the next year, saying he would first need to see a sustained period of at least six months of healthy anger…
  • North Korea calls South Korea's border firing 'reckless'

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - North Korea has called South Korea's recent firing of warning shots at the border a "reckless military provocation" aimed at promoting anti-Pyongyang sentiments and maintaining a confrontation on the peninsula. Source
  • Republican election hopeful allegedly body-slams reporter

    World News CBC News
    Witnesses said the Republican candidate for Montana's sole congressional seat body-slammed a reporter Wednesday, the day before the polls close in the nationally watched special election. Greg Gianforte was in a private office preparing for an interview with Fox News when Guardian newspaper reporter Ben Jacobs came in without permission, campaign spokesman Shane Scanlon said. Source
  • American Airlines was warned about disruptive man at gate, passenger says

    World News Toronto Sun
    HONOLULU — Before a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu took off carrying a passenger whose inflight behaviour prompted bomb-threat procedures and military fighter jets to escort the plane, passengers complained to American Airlines workers that the man was scaring them, a woman who was on the flight said Wednesday. Source
  • Melting pot Manchester stresses unity after concert attack

    World News CTV News
    MANCHESTER, England -- On the Manchester street they call the "Curry Mile," there are no longer just Indian or Pakistani restaurants. Instead, in a sign of the ever-changing face of this proudly multiethnic city, a hungry diner these days can choose between Halal snacks from Beirut, kebabs from Afghanistan or garishly colored sweets from India, among many others. Source
  • Hernandez days of beatings, Honey Buns

    World News Toronto Sun
    Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez’s days in jail were a depressing litany of beatings and gorging on Honey Buns. The one-time New England Patriot was often attacked by his fellow jailbirds and he battled with guards over his letters being confiscated. Source
  • Trump and pope focus on peace [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    VATICAN CITY — Handshakes, gifts, friendly small talk and big hopes for peace. Setting aside past differences and rude comments aside, U.S. President Donald Trump and Pope Francis put a determinedly positive face on their first meeting Wednesday at the Vatican. Source
  • Crown, defence issue closing arguments in sex assault trial of former ski coach Bertrand Charest

    Canada News CBC News
    The closing arguments in the sexual assault trial of former women's ski coach Bertrand Charest were submitted Wednesday, bringing the lengthy process one step closer to a ruling. The arguments by the Crown and defence were written out as per a request by Quebec Court Judge Sylvain Lépine when testimonies concluded on March 23. Source
  • B.C. NDP wins in Courtenay-Comox, leaving Liberals with minority government

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    VICTORIA — The B.C. NDP won the crucial riding of Courtenay-Comox on Wednesday, leaving the B.C. Liberals without the seats needed to form a majority government. The final results Wednesday saw the NDP’s Ronna-Rae Leonard win the riding with 189 votes, expanding a lead she had built earlier in the day as Elections B.C. Source
  • 'The Joker' points gun at traffic: Florida police

    World News Toronto Sun
    MIAMI — Police in Florida have managed to arrest the Joker without Batman’s help following reports of a green-haired man with tattoos on his face pointing a gun at traffic. A Miami-Dade police report says 29-year-old Lawrence Sullivan was arrested Tuesday evening and charged with carrying a concealed firearm. Source