France - United Kingdom

Hollande says Cameron challenge to EU principles unacceptable

French President François Hollande (R)  and British Prime Minister David Cameron in Paris last month
French President François Hollande (R) and British Prime Minister David Cameron in Paris last month Reuters/Eric Gaillard

French President François Hollande said it would be "unacceptable" for British Prime Minister David Cameron to question the European Union's founding principles as he arrived for a summit in Brussels to discuss averting Brexit and the influx of migrants into Europe. Cameron earlier pledged to "battle hard" for what he believes are British interests.

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"If it is legitimate to listen to the British prime minister, it is unacceptable to revise founding European commitments," Hollande told journalists on arrival in Brussels.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

At a pre-summit dinner Cameron will for the first time tell leaders of the 27 other EU countries how he wants to change the bloc ahead of a British referendum on membership in 2017.

"We're not pushing for a deal tonight but we're pushing for real momentum so that we can get this deal done," he said on Thursday. "So I am going to be battling hard for Britain right through the night and I think we will be getting a good deal.

Cameron says he wants "real progress" in four areas:

Greater protection for non-euro countries; The UK's exclusion from the "ever closer union" goal of EU treaties; greater economic competitiveness; a limit to benefits for EU migrants.

EU President Donald Tusk has said a deal could be reached at a summit in February but said on Thursday that some of Cameron's demands "seem unacceptable".

Cameron's proposal to ban EU migrants working in Britain from claiming benefits for children and social housing for the first four years of their stay has met almost unanimous opposition.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called Thursday for speedy action to tackle the migrant influx, including creating a European border guard service.

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