Brussels | Prime Minister David Cameron said he would urge Britons to vote to stay in the EU in a referendum after winning a package of controversial reforms to Britain’s ties with the bloc. After two days of tortuous negotiations with EU leaders, Cameron said yesterday that Britain would be given a special status, allowing it to curb immigration and safeguard its non-euro economy against greater integration in the single currency area. This is enough for me to recommend that Britain remain in the European Union, Cameron told a press conference as a summit of the 28 EU leaders broke up.
Under pressure from growing eurosceptic sentiment and dissent within his own Conservative Party, three years ago the prime minister promised an in-out referendum by 2017 but said he would campaign to stay in if he won key powers back from Brussels. It is widely expected that he will call the vote for June.
Cameron said Britain would be permanently outside of the EU’s advance towards an ever closer union, and it would never join the euro bloc. It would also have the right to challenge any development in the eurozone which threatened the pound and its economic interests, he said. We will be out of the parts of Europe that don’t work for us and in the parts that do the best of both worlds, he said.
Eurosceptics say the euro and closer union lead to a European super-state and not the loose cooperative of countries based on trade ties they want. Cameron said the EU would also now focus more efforts on improving its economic competitiveness by slashing red-tape and boosting trade ties with major economies around the world.
The benefits to Britain would be huge, at billions of pounds dollars, euros a year, he said. He said that his EU counterparts had also agreed to meet his demands on the most controversial changes giving Britain the right to curb welfare benefits for migrants and clampdown on fraud and abuse. Many eastern European countries with hundreds of thousands of workers in Britain said this was discriminatory and violated the EU’s core principle of freedom of movement.
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