British Prime Minister, David Cameron, on Tuesday in London urged EU leaders to develop a flexible union of free states.
He said the four key areas where he wanted to negotiate reforms were contained in his letter to EU President Donald Tusk.
Cameron said it included protecting the European single market with binding principles that “guarantee fairness” for Eurozone and Non-eurozone EU nations.
He said the proposed reforms would make the EU more competitive and expand its global trade links, and exempt Britain from the requirement to pursue “ever closer union”.
“They also aim to “tackle abuses of the right to free movement” inside the EU.
“Right now the pressures are too great,” he said of migration to Britain from other EU countries, citing demand for schools, health care and other services,’’ he said.
The Prime minister said he wanted to restrict the right to benefits for EU migrants, including the introduction of a four-year qualification period for access to housing and other benefits.
Cameron has promised to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership before holding an in-out referendum by the end of 2017.
He, however, warned that he could campaign for Britain to leave the bloc if he was not satisfied with the outcome of his negotiations.
“I have every confidence that we will achieve an agreement that works for Britain and works for our European partners.
“But if we can’t reach such an agreement and if Britain’s concerns were to be met with a deaf ear, which I do not believe will happen, then we will have to think again about whether this European Union is right for us,” he said.
Meanwhile, Margaritis Schinas, Spokesman for the European Commission said on Tuesday in Brussels that some of the EU reforms that were being sought by British Prime Minister David Cameron were “highly problematic’’.
He noted that even though some appeared to be feasible, like finding ways to increase the role of national parliaments, yet many were problematic.
Schinas said the problematic issues included the ever-closer union and relations between the euro ins and outs, “and some things which are highly problematic as they touched upon the fundamental freedoms of our internal market’’.
“Direct discrimination between EU citizens clearly falls into this last category.
The EU’s executive considers that a letter sent by Cameron on Tuesday detailing his demands would mark the start of negotiations with London.
Schinas said the commission was ready to work for a fair deal with Britain that is also fair for all the other member states.
A report from London said Cameron could hold the referendum in June if other EU leaders “agree to the bulk of his reform package” at a summit next month.
Recent polls have suggested a roughly even split among voters, with around 20 per cent undecided. (dpa/NAN)

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