British Prime Minister David Cameron has told the president of the European Commission that the country needed a new deal on Europe, before he presses his case for reforms to the bloc with other national leaders this week.
Talks between Cameron and EC President Jean-Claude Juncker focused on reforming the European Union and renegotiating the UK’s ties with Brussels, a government spokeswoman said.
“The prime minister underlined that the British people are not happy with the status quo and believe that the EU needs to change in order to better address their concerns,” she said.
Juncker reiterated he wanted to find a “fair deal for the UK and would seek to help”, she said, and they agreed more discussions would be needed to find a way forward.
Cameron promised before the British national election earlier this month he would renegotiate Britain’s role in Europe, and hold a referendum on the country’s continuing membership of the bloc by the end of 2017.
He launched his reform drive at a summit of EU and ex-Soviet states in Latvia last week, saying he was confident of winning concessions although it would not be easy.
Cameron has said changes to rules on welfare benefits were an absolute requirement in any renegotiation. He wants to force EU migrants to wait four years before accessing a range of welfare benefits in Britain, and to win the power to deport out of work EU jobseekers after six months.
Cameron will embark on a tour of five European capitals later this week to hold talks with key EU leaders over his reform plans.
The British leader will travel first to Denmark for a working breakfast with Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt on Thursday before heading to the Netherlands for talks with Prime Minister Mark Rutte. He will have dinner with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee palace in Paris.
On Friday, Cameron will meet Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz in Warsaw and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
Cameron hopes to speak with all 27 EU leaders individually before a European Council meeting at the end of June where he is expected to set out his reform plans in more detail.