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EU Leaders Poised to Help Keep Britain in the Bloc

  • VOA News

British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, is greeted by European Parliament President Martin Schultz at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 16, 2016.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, is greeted by European Parliament President Martin Schultz at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 16, 2016.

Senior European Union leaders are expressing their commitment to help Britain remain in the bloc.

Before a two-day summit that opens Thursday, British Prime Minister David Cameron won a commitment from European Parliament President Martin Schulz that the legislative body will “do its utmost” to back any fair deal on the EU reform Cameron is seeking.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also said Tuesday the bloc was not planning for any British departure.

"I am not entering into the details of a plan B, because we do not have a plan B, we have a plan A. Britain will stay in the European Union as a constructive and active member,'' he said.

Britain's proposals

Under pressure from his Conservative Party that has pledged to hold a national referendum by the end of 2017 on the nation's continued membership in the European Union, Cameron presented four proposals last month for reforming Britain's relations with the European Union.

Speaking from Athens, EU Council President Donald Tusk pointed at “still fragile negotiations” with Britain, but expressed support for a deal to keep the country in the bloc.

Cameron's reform proposals include building competitiveness into EU practices; making sure that non-euro countries, including Britain, are not discriminated against, clarifying that Britain is not formally obligated to work toward closer union with its European partners; and instituting curbs on migration and benefits.

Counter proposals

Earlier this month, Tusk circulated counter proposals in a letter to leaders of EU member states. The plan aims to address Britain's concerns, including what many Britons see as a loss of sovereignty to Brussels.

Schulz indicated the proposals will be thoroughly explored.

"I think that there will be a very constructive debate in the European Parliament. But to be quite clear, no government can go to a Parliament and say, 'This is our proposal, can you give a guarantee about the result?' This is not possible in democracy, therefore my answer is the European Parliament will do the utmost to support a compromise and a fair deal, but I can not pre-empt the result in the European Parliament, but once more, or once the institutions agree our experience is it goes in a good direction," he said.

The proposals are scheduled to be discussed at the summit beginning Thursday in Brussels.

Some material for this report came from AP, AFP and Reuters.

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