30 January 2014
Last updated at 21:54 ET
It will be David Cameron and Francois Hollande’s first summit
Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to press French President Francois Hollande to back European Union reform as he hosts a UK-France summit.
The talks, which will take place at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, are expected to cover subjects including energy, defence and science.
A source said Mr Cameron would call for a “more flexible” EU during the lunch.
But a source close to Mr Hollande said he was unlikely to back such a move.
Mr Cameron’s Conservative Party is promising to hold an in-out referendum on the European Union by the end of 2017 if it wins the 2015 general election.
This is unpopular among Mr Hollande’s ministers, according to BBC Europe editor Gavin Hewitt, who said: “They will not accept a Europe a la carte, where countries cherry-pick what they like.”
UK officials sought to play down the differences between the two men, holding the first UK-France summit since Mr Hollande became president in 2012, saying: “We have seen over a period of months now increasing recognition around Europe about the need for treaty change. Every country will approach that from their own perspective in the usual way.”
Mr Cameron was “optimistic and takes a very positive approach to the changes that he wants to see”, a source added.
The prime minister is expected to make the argument for greater deregulation within the EU and a change of relationship between Brussels and countries not in the eurozone, including the UK.
The summit follows criticism by both the UK and French governments over the state of the other’s economy.
However, a source close to Mr Hollande signalled that it was “very, very unlikely” he would agree to treaty changes by 2017.
For Labour, shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker said: “Rather than pandering to his Conservative backbenchers who want Britain to leave the EU, David Cameron should bear in mind the uncertainty he is creating for British businesses and think about the British defence jobs he is putting in danger.”