European Union and British diplomats held “intensive” talks in Brussels Monday in a race against time to seal a deal on changes to Britain’s membership of the crisis-ridden bloc by the end of the day.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and EU President Donald Tusk failed to reach an agreement over dinner in London Sunday and so decided on a 24-hour extension for further discussion in a bid to reach an accord by the self-imposed deadline.
But with only one of the four policy areas or baskets demanded by Cameron having been agreed so far, according to EU officials, the negotiations to keep Britain in the 28-nation bloc promise to be difficult.
The turmoil over Britain’s membership comes as the EU is struggling with the biggest influx of migrants since World War II, and the ongoing fallout over the eurozone debt crisis.
“Intensive work in next 24 (hours) crucial,” Tusk wrote on Twitter Sunday night.
“Only one basket is really ‘closed’,” an EU source told AFP. “Negotiations continue.”
Failure to reach an agreement Monday will mean that Tusk is likely unable to issue a draft proposal for other EU leaders this week, in time for a full deal at an EU summit Brussels on Feb. 18-19.