British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he is still optimistic of securing a deal in February on reforming the European Union (EU). Germany has said the UK's exit from the bloc would be a "disaster."
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, David Cameron said his aim was to "secure the future of Britain in a reformed European Union."
The British prime minister is currently locked in ongoing negotiations with European leaders to win support for his four reforms to the bloc. The most contentious demand of the four is Cameron's proposed restriction on welfare benefits to EU migrants.
'Not in a hurry'
Cameron added, however, that he was willing to wait if the right deal weren't reached, and push back the British public's in/out referendum, which could take place as early as June if a deal is struck in February.
"I'm not in a hurry, I can hold my referendum at any time up until the end of 2017 and it's much more important to get this right than it [is] to rush it," Cameron said.
Germany warns against 'Brexit'
French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday thatthe UK's demands were not "insurmountable,"
as long as they didn't stand in the way of the bloc's principle values.
"If Britain wants to go its own way within the European Union, we can allow it, but that cannot prevent the countries that want to go further in integration, monetary for example," the French president said, promising to be "particularly vigilant" about London's demands.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he was "fairly optimistic," but "not absolutely sure" that a deal with Britain could emerge in February.
Also speaking in Davos, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said a Brexit - Britain's potential departure from the EU - would be a "disaster."
"I hope that the British will stay in Europe and with us," Schäuble said.
ksb/kms (AFP, AP)