British PM promises referendum on EU membership

Wednesday, January 23, 2013
British Prime Minister David Cameron proposes hold on EU membership  [Official Photo]

London: British Prime Minister David Cameron says that if his government is reelected, he will hold a referendum on his country’s EU membership before the end of 2017.

 Britain's next national elections are due in 2015.

Cameron made the announcement in a widely anticipated speech in London.

"Today, public disillusionment with the EU is at an all-time high. And there are several reasons for this. People feel that the EU is heading in a direction that they never signed up to," Cameron said. "They resent the interference in our national life by what they see as unnecessary rules and regulation."

The prime minister called for reforms for the 27-nation bloc that include more democratic accountability, and more power flowing back to, not away from member states.

"People also feel that the EU is now heading for a level of political integration that is far outside Britain's comfort zone. They see treaty after treaty changing the balance between member states and the EU and they note they were never given a say," Cameron said.

'New Settlement'
Cameron said the European Union must change to promote prosperity and retain the support of its people.
He said he wants to negotiate a “new settlement” regarding Britain’s EU membership.

"Simply asking the British people to carry on accepting a European settlement over which they have had little choice is a path to ensuring that when the question is finally put -- and at some stage it will have to be -- it is much more likely that the British people will reject the EU. That is why I am in favor of having a referendum," Cameron said.

He said it would be wrong to hold a referendum “before we have had a chance to put the relationship right.”

Talk of such a referendum on Britain’s continued EU membership has caused concern in capitals across Europe and North America. Last week, President Barack Obama told Cameron that "the United States values a strong U.K. in a strong European Union.

Copyright (c) 2013. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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