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Brexit summit | Confident Muscat says UK requests are sensible [Video]

Muscat says Malta insisting on not just a deal for Britain, but a deal for all EU member states “who may presently or in the future, face circumstances which Britain is currently undergoing.” • PN leader Simon Busuttil says the UK staying in the EU is within Malta's interestSimon Busuttil

Matthew Vella
18 February 2016, 5:25pm
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (Photo: European Council)
Muscat on Brexit: UK has sensible demands.
Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has sounded an upbeat tone on David Cameron’s requests to renegotiate the United Kingdom’s relationship with the EU, ahead of a referendum on whether the country is to remain inside the Union.

“I believe that Prime Minister David Cameron’s requests are sensible, and that if properly refined, they will be requests which the Maltese government can and will support,” Muscat told Bloomberg News.

Cameron is seeking EU reforms in four key areas: economic competitiveness, members' sovereignty rights, welfare policies and the free movement of labour. If he succeeds, he may hold a referendum on whether Britain should remain in the EU in June.

A two-day summit at the EU's headquarters will also address a stalled plan over how to deal with the region's migrant crisis.

“I am confident of a deal,” Muscat said. “I wouldn’t say that we are preoccupied by any particular matter raised by Britain. It is more of a case of resolving towards sensible reforms which unify Europe rather than dismembering it, to look towards completing and strengthening the  single market, that Member States would have a bigger say in the workings of Europe, and most importantly putting a stop to Europe-wide abuse of social benefits.”

But Muscat also said that Malta was insisting on not just a deal for Britain, but a deal for all EU member states “who may presently or in the future, face circumstances which Britain is currently undergoing.”

The EU has indicated that a decision may be reached as early as Friday morning.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, said he remained “quite confident” that a deal would be reached in spite of there being “a number of questions” still to answer.

Dalia Grybauskaite, Lithuania’s president, predicted “everybody would have [their] own drama — and then we will agree”.

Beata Szydlo, the Polish premier, warned that she wanted agreement “but not at any price”.

Most polls show that the British electorate, who will decide whether there is a so-called Brexit — a British EU exit —  is split over the issue while a majority of the EU's 500 million citizens would prefer if Britain remained in the group.

Speaking in Brussels Thursday, Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, said the party will campaign to keep Britain in the EU, regardless of the summit's outcome.

“The UK staying in the EU is within Malta's interest” – Simon Busuttil

Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil has said that the UK remaining in the EU is in Malta and Europe’s interest.

Speaking during the summit of the European People’s Party, Busuttil said that the PN’s position on the ongoing negotiations between the EU and the UK has remained constant.

“We should do our utmost to make sure that the UK remains a member of the EU, both as a European country and also because Malta often shares view points with the UK,” he said.

Busuttil also said that it was essential to ensure that the needs of Maltese people living in the UK were safeguarded.

“Malta wants a deal that will be agreeable to the UK, and to Maltese people living in the UK.”

Matthew Vella is editor and MaltaToday on Sunday.

He joined Mediat...