Breakup Risk “Real” Over UK-EU Talks

Breakup Risk “Real” Over UK-EU TalksBreakup Risk “Real” Over UK-EU Talks

Negotiations over the UK’s EU reform demands are at a “critical moment” and the risk of breakup “is real”, EU Council President Donald Tusk has said.

Tusk, who is overseeing the negotiation, urged European leaders to handle the situation “with care”.

British Premier David Cameron is seeking a deal at this week’s crunch EU summit before holding the UK’s referendum. Earlier he bowed to pressure to hold a Cabinet meeting straight after the summit if a deal is agreed, BBC reported.

A Number 10 spokesman said Cameron and French President Francois Hollande had held “constructive discussions” on the UK renegotiation when they met in Paris late on Monday.

“They agreed that we are making good progress ... and that the draft text from the European Council provides a firm basis to reach agreement at this week’s summit,” the spokesman said.

Tusk is on a tour of European countries ahead of the two-day summit of EU leaders, which begins on Thursday.

Speaking after holding talks with the Romanian and French presidents, he said negotiations on Britain’s future inside the 28-member bloc were “difficult but … hugely important”.

Reflecting on the talks, Tusk said: “This is a critical moment. It is high time we started listening to each other’s arguments more than to our own.

“But the risk of breakup is real because this process is indeed very fragile. Handle with care. What is broken cannot be mended.”

The French government is said to be concerned about UK calls for protection for non-eurozone countries, but No. 10 said the French had shown “willingness” to find a solution.

As part of his diplomatic push, Cameron, who met German Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks on Friday, will discuss the renegotiation with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday, as well as senior MEPs.

If a deal is agreed on the PM’s reforms, which also include curbs on migrants’ welfare entitlement, he will hold a Cabinet meeting on Friday evening, sources have told the BBC.