The Latest: Denmark cautiously welcomes UK reform demands

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Posted: Nov 10, 2015 1:03 PM
The Latest: Denmark cautiously welcomes UK reform demands

BRUSSELS (AP) — The latest reaction to Britain's demands for European Union reform. All times local.

7:00 p.m.

Denmark's prime minister has given a guarded welcome to British Prime Minister David Cameron's demands for reform of the European Union.

In a message directed to Cameron on Twitter, Lars Loekke Rasmussen said "Good basis for concrete negotiations. It will be difficult. I hope we will succeed because we need a strong UK in EU."

Cameron earlier Tuesday said the EU must agree to "irreversible changes" that would cede autonomy back to member states — and limit freedom of movement, a key EU principle, by allowing the U.K. to restrict benefits for European immigrants.

Britain will hold a referendum by the end of 2017 on whether to leave the EU. Cameron says he wants to remain in, provided he can secure the reforms he seeks.

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4:55 p.m.

The EU's euro commissioner says some of British Prime Minister David Cameron's demands for reform of the European Union are "highly problematic."

One of Cameron's key demands is instituting restrictions on immigration from the EU into Britain.

EU euro commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said "direct discrimination" between EU citizens was one of the thorniest issues to address in Cameron's letter as it touches on the "fundamental freedoms of our internal market."

Dombrovskis, who was speaking in Brussels at the conclusion of a regular meeting of the EU's 28 finance ministers that included Britain's George Osborne, said increasing the role of national parliaments is one issue where agreement can be found.

Other issues, such as how to "manage relations between euro-ins and outs," require further discussions. One of the key demands of the U.K. government is that safeguards are put in place to make sure that the 19 euro countries don't discriminate against the nine others who still use their own currency.

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3:40 p.m.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka says he considers the most controversial of British Prime Minister David Cameron's demands for European Union reforms the one about limiting the free-movement principle.

In a Tuesday statement, Sobotka says that any attempts to limit freedom of movement poses "a serious problem for the Czech Republic," which became an EU member in 2004.

Sobotka says that "the right to work and live anywhere in the EU is absolutely essential to us due to our historical experience."

He says that freedom of movement is considered by the Czechs a key advantage of EU membership and "it is impossible to imagine" his country should give it up.

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2:40 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she's been in touch with British Prime Minister David Cameron on his government's demands for European Union reforms and that he is bringing "no surprises to the table."

Merkel told reporters in Berlin on Tuesday that she spoke by phone with Cameron on Monday and talked about his proposals.

She says that she's willing to work with him on his proposals.

Even though she says "some are easier than others," Merkel says that "if one has the spirit that we can solve these problems, then I'm convinced it can be done."

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1:35 p.m.

The British Institute of Directors group has backed Prime Minister David Cameron's call for EU reforms ahead of a British referendum on whether to remain part of the 28-nation bloc.

The group representing some 34,000 company directors said Tuesday that cuts to EU "red tape" are needed, as is a change to the call for "ever closer union."

Director General Simon Walker said Cameron "hit the right notes for business" in his proposals. Walker said members see benefits in remaining inside the EU and trading in its single market but that it is necessary to cut "burdensome" regulations that are holding back business growth.

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12:50 p.m.

British finance chief George Osborne says the British government's proposals will benefit everyone in the EU.

"These are changes that will improve the European Union for all of its citizens so we create more jobs," he said in Brussels as he arrived for a regular meeting of the EU's 28 finance ministers.

He said the proposals would also safeguard Britain's national interests.

Osborne said he would be meeting the eurozone's top official Jeroen Dijsselbloem and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

"We're going to sit round the table and the negotiations are going to start and I think we have a real good chance to achieve the reform that we all want to see," he said.

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12:30 p.m.

The European Commission says that some of the issues raised by British Prime Minister David Cameron to reform the EU are "highly problematic."

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said Tuesday that some of Cameron's proposals for talks to make sure that Britain stays in the EU may be feasible but insisted others ranged from "difficult to worse."

He specifically latched on to proposals where freedom of movement would be limited by allowing the U.K. to restrict benefits for migrants from other member states.

"Some things which are highly problematic as they touch upon the fundamental freedoms of our internal market, direct discrimination between EU citizens clearly falls into this last category," Schinas said.