British Prime Minister David Cameron is in Brussels to renegotiate his country's ties with the European Union. But Greece and the refugee crisis in Europe are expected to overshadow his concerns.
David Cameron's agenda to renegotiate Britain's deal with the European Union was pushed to the sidelines on Thursday after talks on the Greece crisis kept stalling and refugee problems overwhelmed the bloc's leaders.
"Today marks a significant milestone really in the process of saying that it is right to have this renegotiation and this referendum," Cameron said on his arrival in Brussels. "The British people have the final say about whether we stay in a reformed European Union or leave," he added.
The summit marked the beginning of Europe renegotiating its ties with Britain. Jonathan Faull, one of the senior Britons in the EU civil service, was appointed as the head of a new task force to deal with "strategic issues related to the UK referendum," signaling that the EU was serious about its talks with Britain.
However, a comprehensive discussions on the reforms would have to wait until the second half of the year, a senior EU official told the AFP news agency, on condition of anonymity.
EU leaders also warned that only changes which were "safe" for Europe would be considered. "One thing should be clear from the very beginning - the fundamental values of the EU are not for sale and non-negotiable," EU President Donald Tusk said as he arrived at the summit on Thursday. A day earlier, Queen Elizabeth used her visit to Germany to warn that a "division in Europe could be dangerous."
The British Prime Minister was re-elected to his position last month after he promised he would secure key changes in Britain's membership in the EU. He faces considerable pressure from euroskeptics in his Conservative party and has been lobbying in top speed to gather support from EU members for his proposed changes.
These include restricting the number of EU migrants going to Britain for work and guarantees that London could opt out of rules made by members of the eurozone.
mg/rc (Reuters, AFP)