Cameron to meet Juncker as 'Brexit' talks close in on deal
British Prime Minister David Cameron and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker will try to thrash out a deal on migrant benefits on Friday in a final push for a reform deal to keep Britain in the EU.
The European Union is expected to make its proposals on Monday in time to reach an agreement at a crunch summit in February, which would then allow Cameron to hold a referendum on membership of the 28-nation bloc in June.
In a sign of the urgency of the talks, Cameron cancelled a visit to Denmark and Sweden to hold Friday's working lunch with Juncker, while he will also have a hastilyarranged dinner with EU president Donald Tusk in London on Sunday.
The talks with Juncker -- the head of the EU's powerful executive, which would initiate any legislation needed for the deal -- are expected to focus on Cameron's demands for a fouryear limit before EU workers in Britain can claim welfare payments.
An emergency "migration brake" that would allow Britain to put limits on immigration or on welfare payments for EU migrants is one of the options that the EU is examining, diplomatic sources have told AFP.
Asked about the "brake" plan, Cameron said on Thursday night during a visit to the Scottish city of Aberdeen: "I'm glad that others in Europe are now taking on board this issue and looking at strong alternatives to the proposal I put forward."
"What's good is that others in Europe are bringing forward ideas to address this problem so we have better control of movement of people into our country," he added.
Many EU states have rejected what they say are discriminatory calls by centre-right Conservative party leader Cameron -- who was re-elected in May -- for a limit on benefits in a union that prizes freedom of movement.
Officials say Cameron's other demands are likely to be easier: safeguards against more political integration in the EU, protection of countries that do not use the euro currency -- a key issue for the City of London financial district -- and the boosting of economic competitiveness.
Tusk's office said the former Polish premier would finalise his proposals for a deal to avoid a so-called "Brexit" from the EU after his meeting with Cameron on Sunday, which would cover all four areas.
Tusk is likely to table his proposals on Monday, European sources told AFP.
Cameron set them out to other EU leaders at a summit in December in which senior European officials said he had made a convincing case, overcoming last minute objections by a handful of countries.
France has however appeared sceptical in recent weeks, with Prime Minister Manuel Valls warning at the Davos forum last week that a deal was unlikely at the February summit.
But Downing Street insisted the flurry of last-minute talks with top EU officials -- he is also due to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Hamburg on February 12 -- were "absolutely" a positive development.