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EU Leaders Want Britain to Remain Member of Bloc

  • VOA News

British Prime Minister David Cameron, second right, speaks with European Council President Donald Tusk, second left, during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels, Feb. 18, 2016.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, second right, speaks with European Council President Donald Tusk, second left, during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels, Feb. 18, 2016.

European leaders on Thursday began discussions about the future of Britain's European Union membership and the migrant crisis at the outset of a two-day summit in Brussels.

British Prime Minister David Cameron warned he was not prepared to take a deal that did not meet his country’s needs.

“I will be battling for Britain. If we can get a good deal, I will take that deal," he said. "But I will not take a deal that does not meet what we need. I think it is much more important to get this right than to do anything in a rush. But with goodwill, with hard work, we can get a better deal for Britain."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after a meeting with her French counterpart, Francois Hollande, ahead of the summit that her country was ready to do everything it could to create the conditions for Britain to remain in the EU.

But Hollande made clear that any accommodation of British demands must not undermine the 28-member bloc.

Earlier, EU leaders expressed interest in ensuring that Britain remains a member of the bloc.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he was “quite confident” that Britain would remain a "constructive and active member” of the union.

European Parliament President Martin Schultz said that "together we are stronger, and we will work constructively to ensure that what is agreed is actually put into legislative form in the European Union."

Cameron has four key demands: welfare restrictions to curb immigration; safeguards for Britain, which does not use the euro currency; increasing EU competitiveness; and clarification that Britain is not formally obligated to work toward a closer union with its European partners.

Also during the summit, EU leaders will discuss ways to deal with the worst migrant and refugee crisis the continent has faced since World War II.

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