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Britain’s Cameron pitches EU reform in Berlin, Warsaw

Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz welcomes British Prime Minster David Cameron, left, for talks in the Palace on the Island in the royal Lazienki Park in Warsaw, Poland, Friday May 29, 2015.(AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

BERLIN (AP) — British Prime Minister David Cameron is pressing his case for a renegotiation of the country’s relationship with the European Union with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on the final stop of his two-day tour of four European capitals.

He arrived in Berlin Friday from Warsaw after morning meeting with Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz.

Cameron’s newly-elected Conservative government has promised to hold a referendum by the end of 2017 on whether Britain should remain within the EU. Ahead of that vote, he’s looking to get concessions on the terms of Britain’s membership.

In Paris on Thursday, Cameron urged the bloc’s 27 other members to be “flexible” and “imaginative” about the EU’s future — saying that his priority is “to make it more competitive and to address the concerns of the British people about our membership.”

Earlier this week, Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert reiterated Germany’s position, saying “we want, like many others in Europe, a strong Great Britain in the European Union.” He added that it was Britain’s responsibility, however, to decide what role the country would play in the EU.

Cameron has said he wants the country to remain in the trade bloc if he can negotiate a new, looser relationship and win concessions to curb welfare benefits to migrants from the EU.

According to her office, the Polish premier expressed strong opposition to solutions that could lead to the discrimination of Poles or other EU citizens working legally in Great Britain.” Hundreds of thousands of Poles have settled in Britain since Poland joined the EU in 2004.

“By doing so she defended one of the core principles underlying the single market in the European Union,” Kopacz’s office said.

In a statement, Cameron’s office said there were areas of agreement with Kopacz, such as the need for cutting red tape and “respecting the sovereignty of member states.”

It said more discussions were needed on the interaction between free movement and national welfare systems.

Friday’s talks come a day after he met French President Francois Hollande and Dutch premier Mark Rutte.


Vanessa Gera in Warsaw contributed to this report

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