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PM makes 'brief' pitch to EU leaders on reform

Prime Minister David Cameron has made a "brief" pitch to his colleagues in the European Union about plans to reform the UK's deal.

He had hoped to use tonight's meal during the two-day summit in Brussels to pave the way for formal discussions, which have now officially entered their 'technical' stage.

ITV News deputy political correspondent Chris Ship tweeted:

Cameron to put EU reform plans on table tonight

At some point over dinner tonight, the Prime Minister will address leaders of the 27 other EU nations today for the first time in a bid to kick-start formal talks on on reform of Britain's membership.

He called it a "significant milestone" but other leaders were focused on the migrant crisis and Greece on the brink of default.

Cameron wants to restrict EU migrant benefits, an opt-out of the founding principle 'ever closer union' and protection for the UK being overruled by euro-currency member states.

ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship reports:

Treaty changes may not be in place by referendum

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and British Prime Minister David Cameron at the EU Council headquarters with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi Credit: Reuters

Treaty changes to reform the UK's relationship with the EU may not be in place by the time of the in/out referendum, British officials have confirmed.

But they insisted the Prime Minister will secure "legally binding and irreversible" assurances that EU law will be changed to incorporate reforms, which will be "crystal clear" to voters before they go to the polling booths by the end of 2017 .

The development came as a Brussels summit gave the green light to formal talks where David Cameron hopes to secure reforms which will allow him to recommend a Yes vote to stay in the EU.

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EU chief: 'European values are non-negotiable'

President of the European Council, Donald Tusk met David Cameron ahead of the summit today and said the meeting would mark the start of a consideration of British concerns.

But he warned that the EU's fundamental principles were "not for sale and so are non-negotiable".

There are some British concerns we should consider but only in a way which will be safe for all Europe. Today we start this process.

However, one thing should be clear from the very beginning - the fundamental values of the EU are not for sale and so are non-negotiable.

– European Council President Donald Tusk

Cameron: European summit is 'milestone' for Britain

Prime Minister David Cameron said that the European Council summit in Brussels today is a "milestone" for Britain in the process of its renegotiation with the EU.

Today marks a significant milestone in the process of saying it is right for Britain to have this renegotiation and this referendum to address the concerns that the British people have about Europe and to make sure the British people have a final say about whether we stay in a reformed European Union or leave.

But today we're also discussing this vitally important issue of European migration where we need a comprehensive and co-ordinated approach and Britain will play its role.

– Prime Minister David Cameron

He said that along with existing aid and rescue efforts in the Mediterranean, his government is also looking at how to tackle criminal gangs that are trafficking people across Africa and into Europe.

"I look forward to discussing what more Britain can do to help with this crisis," he added.

  1. Chris Ship

Europe leaders 'do not consider referendum a priority'

David Cameron has had one-to-one discussions with all 27 European leaders. Credit: PA

David Cameron plans to complete his one-to-one discussions will all 27 other leaders of the European Union before this afternoon's summit in Brussels.

He will meet with the leaders of Portugal, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Austria.

And he will talk by phone with the leaders of Croatia and Greece - despite the debt crisis in which the Greek Prime Minister is currently wrapped up.

It means by the time David Cameron addresses the EU Council tonight during the leaders' working dinner - they will all, said Downing Street, "know the issues the Prime Minister wants to address".

However, with the EU facing both the Greek and the migrant crisis, Number 10 has been forced to concede that they "recognise" that the "UK renegotiation sits alongside that".

It suggests that many of the 27 leaders outside the UK do not consider the UK's referendum and renegotiation process a priority.

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