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Talks Continue to Decide UK’s Fate

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Prime Minister David Cameron and European Council President Donald Tusk are continuing discussions over UK demands for EU reforms

Cameron EUEuropean Council President Donald Tusk said there had been “some progress” on the first day of the Brussels summit, but “a lot still remains to be done,” BBC reported.

The first EU Council session ended on Thursday with no agreement on several issues, and an EU source said that while it had been “intense and constructive” with all the countries confirming their wish for the UK to stay in the bloc, some also set out specific concerns.

“We expected this,” the EU source said: “But honestly we had hoped for some of them to be less critical.”

Divisions on the proposed deal for the UK are said to be deeper than expected.

During the second day of the summit later, Mr Cameron will seek to secure the deal he wants ahead of holding an in/out referendum on the UK’s EU membership.

The five key areas of discussions include How the EU’s binding treaties will be altered to make the changes; How many member states can trigger an “emergency brake” on migrant welfare; For how long a member state can impose restrictions on in-work benefits for migrants; Whether child benefit curbs can be applied retrospectively and Changing treaties to alter the principle of “ever-closer” union.

Migration issue

In another development, European Union (EU) leaders agreed to implement existing agreements on the ongoing migration crisis in Europe, especially cooperation with Turkey in handling the crisis.

“The full and speedy implementation of the EU-Turkey Action Plan remains a priority, in order to stem migration flows and to tackle traffickers and smugglers networks,” Xinhua quoted the leaders as saying.

The plan was signed in November 2014 between Turkey and the EU, in which Turkey agreed to protect EU borders from the flood of refugees in exchange for $3 billion and a new look at its EU membership bid.

European Council President Donald Tusk said in a joint press conference with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that the EU was to organise a special meeting with Turkey in March.

The EU leaders welcomed NATO’s support in monitoring illegal crossings on the Aegean sea and called on all NATO members to support this measure actively.

The meeting also called for unity of all EU institutions and member states.

“We must look for a synthesis of different approaches. There is no good alternative to a comprehensive European plan,” Tusk said.

A joint effort is needed to solve the migration crisis, Juncker said, adding “solo, national approach is not recommendable.”

Junker’s words were seen as directed at Austria, which drew fire from other EU states for deciding to cap the number of migrants it takes in.

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