Brexit: Britain’s EU concerns ‘solvable’, says Taoiseach

European Council chief Donald Tusk likely to present proposal to address British concerns

British PM David Cameron agreed that a deal was possible next month, although he insisted that there was plenty of time, given that the referendum can be held at any time before the end of 2017. Photograph: PA

British PM David Cameron agreed that a deal was possible next month, although he insisted that there was plenty of time, given that the referendum can be held at any time before the end of 2017. Photograph: PA

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny believes that all remaining disagreements over Britain’s EU reform demands are “solvable” at next month’s summit in Brussels, opening the way to a referendum on Britain’s EU membership as early as June.

Speaking at 10 Downing Street after a meeting with David Cameron, Mr Kenny said there were still some “complications” surrounding Britain’s demands but that none were insurmountable.

“I actually believe that all of these are solvable, in a really positive sense,” he said.

European Council president Donald Tusk is expected to present a proposal next Monday to address Britain’s concerns about economic competitiveness, national sovereignty, the relationship between euro zone members and non-members, and welfare benefits for internal EU migrants.

“My belief is that of the four issues that are on the table there, there are still complications with one or two of those. But I think these are issues which can be sorted and can be agreed.

“I would hope personally that it might be possible to do it in February but then I can’t speak for all of the other countries around the table,” said the Taoiseach.

Good deal

“If there is a good deal on the table, I’ll take that deal, I’ll take it to the British people and explain why it’s the best of both worlds. But it has got to be the right deal,” he said.

The British prime minister praised the Taoiseach’s role in helping to persuade other EU leaders of the merits of Britain’s case for reform and how it could benefit the entire EU.

“Enda and the Irish Government have been and I believe will continue to be hugely helpful. Enda is very respected in the European Council as someone with great experience and knowledge of how the organisation works.

“He knows that Europe would be better off if Britain stayed in because of the contribution that we bring,” said Mr Cameron.

Critical issue

European UnionNorthern Ireland

“The guns are silent. And this has taken a great deal of work from so many people over so many years,” he said. “It is important to say that the road out of inequality, the path out of unfairness is employment and opportunity . . . we should not put anything like that at risk. From our perspective, it would create serious difficulties for Northern Ireland were that to happen.”

Earlier, the Taoiseach addressed a meeting of the British-Irish chamber of commerce at the offices of McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors in the City of London.

He urged business leaders to engage in the referendum debate, suggesting that the business community had played a crucial role in Ireland’s referendum on the EU fiscal treaty.