June 25, 2015 / 8:25 AM / in 2 years

Belgium warns talks on Cameron's EU renegotiation will be tough

British Prime Minister David Cameron arrives for a state banquet on the occasion of the official visit by Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, at Bellevue presidential palace in Berlin, Germany June 24, 2015. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

LONDON (Reuters) - Belgium has said EU-wide talks on Prime Minister David Cameron’s plan to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the European Union are likely to be difficult and that his desire to exclude London from the bloc’s aim of ever closer union is problematic.

Belgium issued the warning as Cameron prepared to pitch his plans to a summit in Brussels on Thursday as leaders of the 28-member bloc grapple with an influx of migrants and the prospect of a Greek default.

“Europe is something ... you work on altogether and you try to achieve something altogether,” Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt told BBC radio when asked for his country’s views on Cameron’s plan to exempt Britain from the bloc’s stated aim of “ever closer union”, a goal set out in its founding treaties.

“It would certainly be a hard negotiating position to negotiate about because that kind of statement is a very strong statement that would really make the negotiations certainly very difficult,” he said.

Van Overtveldt said Belgium regarded Britain as “a very important element” within the EU, however, and would “take into account” its ideas on reforming its ties with the bloc.

Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Michael Holden

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