Cameron Kicks Off EU Reform Talks

Cameron Kicks Off EU Reform Talks

BRUSSELS (AP) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron is kicking off a high-stakes weekend of diplomatic negotiations on European Union reforms with a visit to EU headquarters.

Cameron will be hosted on Friday by the leaders of the EU's executive Commission and the European Parliament, amid signs on both sides that they want a deal. If he gets enough reform, Cameron could argue for continued EU membership during a British referendum on the issue that could come as early as this summer.

On Sunday, Cameron will host EU President Donald Tusk for more talks at Downing Street as the Feb. 18-19 EU summit on the issue is drawing near.

Cameron has said he will back staying in the EU if the reform will allow Britain more independent decision-making, and that he was heartened by recent talks.

"What I was previously told was impossible is now looking like it is possible," he told the BBC.

"We have made progress. It is encouraging that people like the European Commission are coming forward with ideas," he said ahead of his meeting with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Speculation is mounting that the EU will offer Britain an "emergency brake" which would allow the U.K. to place temporary curbs on benefits for migrants if the British welfare system is under strain.

The proposal could satisfy Britain's goal of regaining some control over immigration, and other countries' desire to maintain the key EU principle of free movement among member states.

Pro-EU Conservative lawmaker Nick Herbert told the BBC that Britons would be willing to consider the idea, "because what we want is a solution."

But Euroskeptic Tory legislator John Redwood said the proposal was "simply a bad joke" that would not give Britain control of its borders.

(KA)