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Will the UK exit the Juncker battle unscathed?

UK PM Cameron: I will fight Juncker presidential bid

All eyes will be on British Prime Minister David Cameron at Friday's European leaders' summit, as the U.K. struggles to define its place in the European Union (EU).

But despite disagreement over who will become the next head of the EU -- the European Commission president -- Cameron could leave the meeting with only minor political wounds, according to some analysts.

The U.K's relationship with the 28-nation bloc has been frosty over the past year and a half. In January 2013, Cameron promised an "in-out" referendum on EU membership, and since then has clashed with European leaders on a range of issues, including banking union and the president of the European Commission.

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Britain is opposed to appointing frontrunner Jean-Claude Juncker to one of the EU's top jobs. Described as "Federalist" by Cameron, Juncker's pro-EU stance stands in contrast to Britain's.

British Prime Minister David Cameron delivers his keynote speech at Manchester Central on October 2, 2013 in Manchester, England.
Getty Images

This could leave the U.K. isolated at this weekend's two-day summit in Ypres, Belgium and Brussels - and in future negotiations, analysts told CNBC.

"The U.K stands isolated, and that is generally not a good place to be in diplomatic negotiations," Richard Whitman, associate fellow at Chatham House, told CNBC in a phone interview.

"Britain's issue isn't so much what happens tomorrow, but what happens after that."

Same old Britain

But not everyone is convinced that this episode will leave Britain out on its own.

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"If you consider how European countries look at the U.K., I don't think this changes much," Zsolt Darvaf, senior fellow at think tank Bruegel, told CNBC in a phone interview.

"The U.K. didn't join the banking union and other European initiatives. It has been a fact of life about the U.K. that it doesn't join European initiatives, but everyone wishes the U.K. to stay in the EU."

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As well as fighting flames in Brussels, Cameron is also contending with challenges at home. The success of the euroskeptic U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) in recent European Elections put his Conservative party on the back foot, and caused discontent in the ranks.

A recent FT/Populus poll, however, showed that voters supported Cameron's battle against Juncker.

Cameron's wrangling with European leaders over the next European Commission president could even strengthen his negotiating hand, as leaders look to appease Britain in an effort to keep them in the EU.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled that EU leaders would take Britain's demands into account when defining the bloc's priorities for the next Commission.

"In order to keep Britain in the EU in the longer term, there will need to be some evidence of U.K.-friendly reforms. Merkel has recognized the importance of the U.K. in the bloc," Pawel Swidlicki, research analyst at Open Europe think tank, told CNBC in a phone interview.

"I'd be worried about reading too much into the Juncker row of how representative it is in the EU. Cameron's agenda has a lot of support in EU."

Hungary is the only other country likely to oppose Juncker's appointment on Thursday, however. While the leaders of the Netherlands and Sweden initially shared Cameron's reservations about Juncker, both have now said they would not block his appointment.

- By CNBC's Arjun Kharpal