Prime Minister David Cameron said on Thursday he could see a pathway to a deal to keep Britain in the European Union after EU leaders told him at a summit in Brussels they would not accept discrimination against EU migrant workers in the UK.
"Nothing is certain in life, nor in Brussels, but what I would say is there is a pathway to a deal in February," Cameron told a news conference after a substantial discussion of Britain's demands to renegotiate the terms of its membership of the 28-nation bloc before a referendum on whether to stay.
In his longest address in more than five years of attending EU summits, the conservative leader told the 27 other national leaders over dinner that if they wanted to keep Britain in, they must address his voters' concerns about curbing immigration.
European Council President Donald Tusk, who chaired the session, said he was more optimistic after the discussion that an accord could be reached in February on all four key British demands because Cameron was looking for a "fair compromise".
He said Britain's bid to deny EU migrants access to in-work benefits - an income supplement for the lower paid - for four years had caused the most difficulty.
The clearest message from the talk was that no one - including Cameron - was ready to accept discrimination, Tusk said: "This is unacceptable and for sure this is not the intention of our British partner."