British PM sets out priorities for EU reform

British PM sets out priorities for EU reform
Cameron's Conservative-led government is seeking to counter the popularity of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), ranked as Britons' favourite political party, by toughening rules on immigration and welfare benefits.

LONDON - Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday outlined the EU reforms he thinks are needed to stop Britain being "sucked into a United States of Europe", ahead of a planned referendum on membership in 2017.

The Conservative leader said he would campaign for Britain to stay in the European Union so long as he can secure changes to reduce the bloc's influence in British affairs.

In an article in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Cameron outlined for the first time his seven priorities, ranging from cutting back red tape to limiting the rights of new EU citizens to work in Britain.

He warned the changes would require "time and patience", an appeal to eurosceptic members of his party who are demanding an even tougher approach to Europe.

"This is an ambitious agenda for a new European Union. Delivering it will take time and patience, as well as strong relationships with our key allies and goodwill - not shouting from the sidelines," the prime minister wrote.

"It will require a negotiation with our European partners. Some changes will best be achieved by alterations to the European treaties. Others can be achieved by different means."

He stressed the reforms were achievable, despite the apparent lack of enthusiasm from Britain's EU allies to renegotiating the 28-nation bloc's complex treaties.

During recent visits to London, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was cool on Cameron's reform agenda and French President Francois Hollande said outright that treaty change was "not a priority".

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