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European Council Summit Dominated by Talks about UK Position in EU
   2015-12-18 20:08:59    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Guan Chao

European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker talks to the press upon arrival to attend the European Union Leaders' Summit in Brussels Dec. 17, 2015. [Photo: Xinhua]

The issue of the UK's attempt to renegotiate its membership in the European Union has dominated a summit of EU leaders in Brussels.

David Cameron has met fierce resistance from his European counterparts on his proposal to cut welfare for citizens from other EU nations living in the UK.

CRI's Jack Parrock reports from Brussels.

 

As European leaders met in Brussels, Prime Minister David Cameron was on a mission to try to force his reforms.

"I think really good progress has been made but it is going to be tough because we are attempting something very difficult, attempting something that hasn't been tried before or tried by another country. That is to renegotiate our position inside this European Union at a time of our choosing with a mandate that the British people have given us in order to get a better deal for Britain, a better deal for Europe and then to hold that referendum."

It's the final EU leaders summit of the year and the prime minister hoped to gain support for slashing welfare benefits for EU citizens who move to the UK.

The EU says it will work on the UK's requests but may not be willing to discuss major treaty changes.

Donald Tusk is the European Council President.

"I didn't want to sound too dramatic before the meeting but I do believe that tonight was a make or break moment. Leaders voiced their concerns but also demonstrated willingness to look for compromises."

Right now about 40 percent of voters in the UK want to stay in the EU, 40 percent want to leave...so 20 percent are undecided. Besides trying to avoid a so called Brexit...EU leaders also worked on solutions to the ongoing refugee and migrants crisis. In 2015 nearly a million people have arrived in Europe - fleeing conflict in countries like Syria, Iraq and across sub-Saharan Africa.

The European Commission has just controversially proposed the creation of an EU border and coastguard force which the EU could dispatch when a flood of refugees arrive.

But observers like PC say it will be a difficult one to push through.

"Of course it is a really bad idea what the commission has proposed, that a country would be forced to allow foreign border guards on their territory. Can you imagine? This is not practically workable, obviously."

Although some EU states say the border force could impeach on national sovereignty, the leaders agreed to adopt a common position before the end of June 2016.

Jack Parrock, CRI, Brussels.

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