David Cameron welcomes new European Council president's pledge

Donald Tusk Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Donald Tusk will give up his job as prime minister of Poland

David Cameron has welcomed a commitment by the new president of the European Council to reach a deal with the UK on EU reform.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who was appointed to the role at a summit in Brussels, said he "cannot imagine" the European Union without the UK.

He said the free movement of workers was a "barrier" that could be reformed.

The PM has pledged to agree a new deal with the EU and put it to a referendum if the Tories win the next election.

'Dark scenario'

At a press conference after his appointment was finalised by fellow European leaders, Mr Tusk, who will give up his role as prime minister of Poland for his new role, said he wanted to "emphasise that the EU, and me personally, will take on the concerns voiced by the UK".

According to the official translation from Polish, he said: "I am talking about the UK because I am sure that the future of the EU is not about making it smaller, about contraction.

Image copyright AP
Image caption David Cameron has pledged to agree a new deal with the EU

"No reasonable person can imagine the EU without the UK. I cannot imagine it myself. I have talked about it with David Cameron. He put forward many proposals for reforms and I am sure with a reasonable framework of politicians we can reach an agreement.

"We can strive to eliminate various barriers - freedom of movement of workers, for example."

He also described the prospect of Britain leaving the EU as a "dark scenario".

Mr Cameron has said he will quit as prime minister after the 2015 election if he cannot guarantee the holding of a referendum on whether the UK should stay in the EU.

Writing on Twitter, he congratulated Mr Tusk and new foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on their appointments, adding that he welcomed the Pole's commitment to work with the UK to reform the EU.

Announcing the appointments, outgoing European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said "Britain's place in the Union" was one of three challenges facing Mr Tusk, along with the "stagnating economy" and Russia's dispute with Ukraine.

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