Prime Minister David Cameron will face an uphill battle today as he makes his case for a renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with the European Union at a series of meetings in Brussels.
Cameron is expected to seek support for his reforms over dinner tonight at the European Council, a two-day summit of heads of state and government from all 28 EU member states.
A government official said that Cameron hoped that his renegotiation efforts would gain the backing of other countries and move on to the second phase of so-called “technical discussions” following the summit.
But the Prime Minister’s efforts at the meeting are likely to be overshadowed by worries of a Greek default and the escalating migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, both of which are expected to take centre stage in the summit’s working sessions, meals and sideline discussions.
The summit marks Cameron’s first European Council since the General Election, and the first meeting of EU leaders where the UK government’s efforts to renegotiate the country’s relationship with the EU is formally on the agenda.
The Prime Minister has spent much of the last month meeting individually with his counterparts from the other European countries, and as of last night had met one-on-one with representatives from 21 of the other member states.
Downing Street said that Cameron wanted to meet face-to-face with the remaining six counterparts – including Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras – this morning in Brussels before the summit begins in the afternoon.
However it is unlikely to be smooth sailing, as Cameron is expected to face push back from at least a handful of countries, including France. Yesterday the French economy minister Emanuel Macron criticised Cameron’s efforts, telling the BBC: “We have to be extremely cautious not to create a sort of EU a la carte.”
He added: “Starting to create more simplicity for one member state is just dismantling.”