LONDON (Reuters) - Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will take Britain’s case for European Union reform to Paris on Sunday, seeking support from his French counterpart for a deal the Conservative government can put before voters in a promised in-out referendum.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to renegotiate ties with the European Union ahead of a vote on the country’s continuing membership by the end of 2017.
Osborne’s trip to Paris, the first in a series of visits to European capitals, will seek to build on Cameron’s meetings with all 27 leaders of the bloc earlier this year, the government said.
He will argue that with public support for reform rising across the EU, now is the time to deliver lasting change.
“The referendum in Britain is an opportunity to make the case for reform across the EU,” he will say, according to excepts of his speech.
“I want to see a new settlement for Europe, one that makes it a more competitive and dynamic continent to ensure it delivers prosperity and security for all of the people within it, not just for those in Britain.”
Cameron’s promise of a referendum was made before national elections in May to neutralise a threat from the anti-EU UK Independence Party and to pacify Euro sceptics in his own party.
The possibility that Britain could leave the European Union as a result of the tactic has worried allies such as the United States and opposition parties in Britain.
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday that a Britain within the European union gave Washington much greater confidence in the strength of the transatlantic union.
Some lawmakers were angered by his intervention in the debate, saying he was lecturing Britain.
Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Angus MacSwan