A Brexit or no Brexit. That is the issue at the heart of a crunch summit in Brussels this Thursday and Friday.
The risk of a break-up is real, because this process is indeed very fragile. Handle with care. What is broken cannot be mended
EU leaders will try to strike a deal on reforms demanded British Prime Minister David Cameron.
But there are divisions. It seems the EU, and the UK, are on the edge.
“We don’t have a plan B, we have a plan A: Britain will stay in the EU as a constructive and active member,” said Jean Claude Junker, EU Commission President.
Martin Schulz, European Parliament President, has added: “Very clearly, the EU has never been in such a dramatic situation as this week.”
“The risk of a break-up is real, because this process is indeed very fragile. Handle with care. What is broken cannot be mended,” Donald Tusk, European Council President, told reporters.
Britain’s demand for more powers to block EU legislation has gained support from other bloc members.
It wants a “red card” system to scrap and to veto unwanted directives.
But there’s opposition to Britain’s push to opt out of the EU’s founding ambition of “ever closer union” – with fears it could derail the integration process.
London also wants measures to ensure that further financial union cannot be demanded of non-eurozone members.
There are fears this could lead to a possible de-facto veto of the UK on eurozone decisions and policies.
What is also causing controversy is Britain’s desire to restrict access to in-work and out-of-work benefits to EU migrants.
A so-called “emergency brake” to stop payments for four years is a possible compromise.
Countries in eastern Europe have signalled their opposition to the welfare proposals.
David Cameron has his work cut out to do the deal he wants – one he would use to push for continued EU membership in a referendum.
Otherwise that much talked about “Brexit” could become a reality.