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  1. ITV Report

EU boss confident of UK reform deal within weeks

The leading figure in the EU has said he is confident that a deal can be reached over Britain's calls for reform of the bloc within weeks.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, said the UK's demands were "very difficult issues" but he believed that a "permanent solution" could be found by the end of February.

"I'm quite sure that we'll have not a compromise, a solution... a permanent solution in February," Juncker told a news conference today.

Tricky relationship: David Cameron meets Jean-Claude Juncker Credit: Reuters

David Cameron has been pushing for key reforms to Britain's membership of the European bloc ahead of a national in/out referendum due to be held by the end of 2017.

Juncker's comment came as George Osborne, the UK chancellor, said that the Treasury is so sure that an agreement will be reached that it is making no preparations for an EU exit.

David Cameron has promised an in/out referendum by the end of 2017 Credit: PA

Responding to Juncker's comments, a Downing Street spokesman said talks were driven by "substance rather than schedule"

"Clearly, if we can get the deal done in February, then that will be good progress," they said.

"But, ultimately, the most important thing is getting the renegotiations done and getting the best possible deal."

Analysis from ITV News political correspondent Carl Dinnen

David Cameron may come back from Brussels in five weeks' time with Britain's place in the EU renegotiated.

Events would move quickly after that; a swift cabinet meeting, an announcement in the Commons and the referendum legislation would be sprung from the traps. Then hold onto your hats for a June referendum on the biggest single issue that has faced the British electorate in a very long time.

– Carl Dinnen