Prime Minister David Cameron and European Council President Donald Tusk are set for a “crucial” day of talks about the UK’s renegotiated membership of the EU
A meeting on Sunday night ended without a deal, though a Downing Street source said there had been a “breakthrough” on restricting benefits for EU migrants.
Mr Tusk said “intensive work” would be needed during the coming hours. The aim is to agree a deal to be put to EU leaders ahead of a summit on 18 and 19 February.
An early deal would allow Mr Cameron to call a referendum on the UK’s EU membership before the school summer holidays, BBC reported.
After their meeting over dinner on Sunday night, Mr Cameron tweeted that Mr Tusk had agreed to another 24 hours of talks before publishing the UK’s draft renegotiation text.
Mr Tusk, whose council is comprised of the leaders of other EU states, tweeted: “No deal yet. Intensive work in next 24 crucial. #UKinEU”.
After the 24-hour period has passed, negotiators will decide whether to table a draft agreement or not.
A statement from the Downing Street said: “On welfare, the Commission have tabled a text making clear that the UK’s current circumstances meet the criteria for triggering the emergency brake.
“This is a significant breakthrough, meaning the Prime Minister can deliver on his commitment to restrict in work benefits to EU migrants for four years.
“But there are still areas where there is more to do and both agreed it was therefore worth taking the extra time to make further progress.
“One such area is economic governance where we want to ensure the enforcement mechanism is watertight, recognising that there must be ways to escalate an issue where we have concerns.
“Another is abuse of free movement, where we want to see more substantive proposals including closing backdoor routes to Britain which have enabled non-EU illegal migrants to stay in Britain in recent years.”