The Latest: Cameron has friend in Merkel at EU reform talks

AP News
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Posted: Dec 17, 2015 9:54 AM
The Latest: Cameron has friend in Merkel at EU reform talks

BRUSSELS (AP) — The latest news from a European Union summit focusing on the migration crisis and British demands for EU reforms. All times local:

3:55 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has assured her British counterpart David Cameron he would have a friend in Germany in his quest to renegotiate fundamental parts of European Union legislation — as long as his proposals did not touch on existing core values of the bloc.

"I believe there should be possibilities to find solutions if all sides are willing to compromise," Merkel said of the upcoming negotiations with Britain. "Germany is in any case prepared to do that; we want to see Britain continue in the European Union."

Cameron is seeking guarantees on national sovereignty, a leaner and more efficient EU bureaucracy and limits on welfare for working EU migrants as his government prepares for a referendum before the end of 2017 on whether to remain an EU member.

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2:55 p.m.

British Prime Minister David Cameron says he will be looking for "real progress" during Thursday's summit on all issues at stake in the nation's attempt to renegotiate its position within the 28-nation bloc.

His insistence comes despite vehement opposition from several member states on fundamental changes to welfare and migration rules.

Arriving for the summit, Cameron said that even if he is not seeking a full deal on Thursday, "we are pushing for real momentum so that we can get this deal done. So I am going to be battling hard for Britain right through the night."

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1:35 p.m.

European Council President Donald Tusk says British Prime Minister David Cameron faces an uphill battle to sway member nations to force through fundamental changes to EU rules that Britain wants since "some parts of the British proposal seem unacceptable."

At a year-end summit that begins Thursday, EU leaders will discuss for the first time in detail the British demands for EU reforms needed for the U.K. to remain a member of the bloc.

Before the start of the summit, Tusk said he was counting on the brinkmanship of Cameron to seek a breakthrough on the major issues.

Tusk said that "If Prime Minister Cameron persuades leaders tonight that we can work together to find solutions, then we will have a real chance to strike a deal in February," when EU leaders meet again.

Britain plans to hold a referendum on whether to remain in the EU by the end of the 2017.

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11:35 a.m.

European Union leaders are converging on Brussels for an end-of-year summit focused on tackling Europe's migrant crisis and other issues.

On the first day of their two-day summit starting Thursday, EU leaders will examine a controversial plan from the European Commission to set up a new border and coast guard agency with powers to unilaterally deploy guards to countries in trouble.

The plan appears likely to face opposition by southern European nations hardest hit by the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants to Europe this year, including Greece and Italy.