LONDON – British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday outlined four areas of change he wants from the European Union as a condition for the U.K. government campaigning to stay in the bloc before an upcoming in-or-out referendum.
He says the changes will give Britain "the best of both worlds," protecting national autonomy while ensuring access to the 28-nation EU and its 500 million-person market.
PROTECTION FOR THE POUND
Britain is one of nine EU countries that doesn't use the euro single currency — and "never will," Cameron said.
He wants guarantees that there will be no discrimination against non-euro countries, eurozone countries can't make decisions that affect the others and non-eurozone taxpayers won't have to pay to support the euro.
LESS RED TAPE
Cameron wants to "cut the total burden on business" and allow capital, goods and services to flow more freely around the EU, with the removal of red tape and "unnecessary regulation."
He wants more initiatives like the Single Digital Market, which is abolishing mobile-phone roaming charges and removing barriers for e-commerce across the EU.
RED LINES FOR NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY
Cameron argues that Britons want no part of the EU's commitment to "ever-closer union," and is seeking formal recognition that it doesn't apply to the U.K.
He says Britain doesn't want individual countries to have vetoes on EU legislation, but seeks a change so that "groups of national parliaments, acting together, can stop unwanted legislative proposals."
And he wants a red line around national security, declaring it the sole responsibility of individual states.
This is the most contentious area because it collides with the EU's free-movement principle, which lets citizens live and work in other member states.
Cameron says unregulated immigration from the EU to Britain — much of it from eastern European nations that have joined the bloc since 2004 — has put too much pressure on British schools, hospitals and public services.
He argues that free movement shouldn't apply to any future new EU countries until their economies reach the level of the existing member states.
And he wants to cut immigration by reducing the "draw" of Britain's welfare benefits, by barring new migrants from collecting some benefits or social housing until they have been in Britain for four years.