Wed, Nov 11, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Cameron outlines Britain’s demands for EU reforms

Reuters, LONDON

British Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday appealed to doubters at home and in other EU capitals to embrace his attempt to reform the 28-member bloc as a chance to boost prosperity rather than writing it off as “Mission Impossible.”

Cameron, under pressure after overseeing what critics see as a lackluster start to the renegotiation of Britain’s ties with the EU, used a speech to offer the most detail yet on four areas where he wants change.

He outlined the strong economic and foreign policy role Britain plays in the EU, but said he did not doubt that Britain could survive if its people voted to leave the EU in a referendum by the end of 2017.

Cameron asked for understanding from Eurosceptics at home and from European partners, some of whom have become frustrated with London’s demands for change.

“There will be those who say, here and elsewhere in the EU, that we are embarked on ‘Mission Impossible,’” Cameron told diplomats, reporters and business leaders at the Chatham House think tank in London.

“I do not believe so for a minute ... The European Union has a record of solving intractable problems. It can solve this one too. Let us therefore resolve to do so, because the prize is a big one,” he said.

Cameron also sent a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, setting out his four main objectives to launch what he described as the renegotiation’s “formal phase” before next month’s summit when EU leaders will hammer out the details of Britain’s new terms.

In his speech, Cameron spelled out what he wanted from Brussels. He said his demands for financial and economic safeguards for countries outside the 19-member eurozone and for the EU to become more competitive must be legally binding and therefore may require treaty change.

He also called for groups of national parliaments to be able to block European laws, part of his move to make sure Britain is excluded from the principle of “ever closer union.”

On migration, he said he proposed that people coming to Britain from the EU must live in the country for four years before qualifying for in work benefits or social housing, and that the practice of sending child benefit overseas should stop.

He appealed to EU governments for understanding, saying none of his demands were “outlandish.”

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