European Union President Donald Tusk signaled the EU faces a make-or-break six weeks as leaders seek deals to keep Britain in the bloc and to curb the influx of Middle Eastern refugees.
Heads of government or state from the 28-nation EU are due to meet next week and in mid-March to address these two sets of challenges. Tusk will host the meetings, which are scheduled for Feb. 18-19 and March 17-18.
“It is no exaggeration to say that the next six weeks will be key for the future of the European Union,” he told the Committee of the Regions in Brussels on Wednesday.
European governments are scrambling to find an agreement on re-jigging U.K. ties with the rest of the EU so that Prime Minister David Cameron can campaign to remain in the bloc before an in-or-out referendum that he may hold as soon as June.
“I am confident that we can do this,” Tusk said. “Then we are in the hands of the British people, who will I hope carefully weigh what is at stake.”
On migration, he said the EU must urgently get a grip on the biggest European refugee wave since World War II to avoid the reintroduction of permanent internal border checks. Their abolition has been Europe’s biggest integration success along with the euro.
“We must get the current migratory flows under control by spring,” Tusk said.