Kenny sees 'strong support' for keeping Britain in the EU
Published 18/12/2015 | 02:30
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he sees "very strong support" for keeping the UK in the EU, ahead of crunch talks aimed at renegotiating its position.
"I would say in general that there is a very strong support, principally, for Britain remaining a central member of the European Union," Mr Kenny said on his way into a summit of EU leaders.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron is under immense pressure to wrest powers back from Brussels or risk triggering a UK exit from the 28-member European Union in a referendum to be held before the end of 2017.
In November he outlined a four-point renegotiation plan, which is foundering on a demand for benefit curbs for EU migrants, which lawyers and diplomats say is discriminatory and goes against Europe's basic freedoms.
French President François Hollande said that while he would hear Mr Cameron out, it was "not acceptable to re-examine Europe's founding principles".
Ireland stands to lose the most from a potential UK exit - and while Government sources say they "fully understand" Mr Cameron's 'red line' issues, they are not prepared to offer him a solution at any price.
"I think the feeling would be that, whatever the details are to be worked out, they should benefit everybody in the European Union," Mr Kenny said. "Many of the countries have already stated their view that they don't want discrimination against citizens from that point of view," he said of the benefit curbs.
The summit is Mr Cameron's first chance to set out his arguments in detail to his EU counterparts. Legal proposals will now have to be worked up by EU lawyers, with the aim of reaching a final deal next February.