A period of uncertainty for Britain and the European Union may come to an end in June, Prime Minister David Cameron has signaled, saying there is “a pathway through this deal.” A June referendum could decide whether British voters are willing to remain in the EU.
Mr. Cameron said he was optimistic about an upcoming summit planned for February in which the country's demands for a changing relationship with the union would be addressed.
“I believe 2016 will be the year we achieve something really vital: fundamentally changing Britain’s relationship with the EU, and finally addressing the concerns of the British people about our membership,” Cameron told reporters on Friday. “Then it will be for the British people to decide whether we remain or leave.”
Most contentious among issues has been Cameron’s insistence that citizens from other EU countries should be ineligible for work, housing, and child-welfare until they’ve been living in the UK for four years.
In a letter to the EU, Cameron stated his immediate and long-term goals, including his concern that he wants “to prevent eurozone countries ganging up on Britain to discriminate against the City of London – and protect its status as Europe’s leading financial center. To protect the UK from having to bail out eurozone countries that get into trouble. To officially recognize the EU as a ‘multi-currency’ area, giving more protection to non-euro countries like the UK.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the Union leaders “all want to compromise.”
Still, some analysts worry that by the time Cameron settles issues with the EU, it may be too late to persuade Britons to vote for continued EU membership.
“From an organizational point of view, looking at where the ‘Leave’ camp is, there’s a strong argument for going sooner,” Matthew Goodwin, a professor of politics at the University of Kent told Bloomberg. “Any referendum outside the winter would be risky for Cameron. By June you will have rising migration flows into Europe.”
"There's still a lot of hard work to be done but there is a path through this," Cameron said. "There was enormous support in the room for finding changes to keep the UK in the EU ... People want to find solutions. There is political will, there is momentum but there is a lot of hard work to be done."