In some of his most pro-European remarks to date, Cameron told the
World Economic Forum in Davos that changes needed to make the euro
zone function better meant the EU would need to alter its treaties.
That would give Britain an opportunity to recalibrate its own
relations with the EU.
"I'm confident that we'll have a successful renegotiation and a
successful referendum," Cameron told delegates, referring to his
plan to reshape his country's EU ties before offering Britons an
in/out referendum if his Conservative party is re-elected next year.
"I'm confident this is doable, deliverable and, as I say, winnable
for Britain to stay in a reformed European Union."
Cameron is under pressure from the anti-EU UK Independence Party
(UKIP) and from euroskeptic lawmakers in his own party ahead of
elections to the European Parliament in May and a national election
He is also mindful of public opinion, with recent polls showing a
slim majority of Britons would vote to leave the EU if given the
chance because they are fed up with what they see as its overbearing
role in everyday life.
However, swaths of big business have expressed concern about the
prospect of leaving the bloc, warning it would make Britain a less
attractive place to do business, while officials in Brussels have
said Britain's influence in the world would be diluted.
The country's EU partners have also played down the chances of
London being able to renegotiate terms with the bloc, amid
accusations London is trying to cherry-pick its way to a new
relationship at the expense of other member states.
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Cameron said Britain and the West had an opportunity to boost their
economic fortunes by luring back jobs and factories from Asia if
they got the regulatory environment right.
Rising costs in Asia and the need to react more quickly to changing
consumer demands meant companies found the prospect of relocating
jobs and services back to their home countries attractive, he said.
"For years the West has been written off. People say that we are
facing some sort of inevitable decline. They say we can't make
anything anymore," he said.
"I don't believe it has to be this way. If we make the right
decisions, we may also see more of what has been a small but
discernible trend where some jobs that were once offshored are
coming back from East to West."
In particular, he asked the EU not to over-regulate when it came to
shale gas, saying it held out the prospect of cheaper energy that
would give firms another possible reason to relocate from Asia.
A UK government push for shale gas developments has met with strong
opposition from local communities and environmentalists to the
hydraulic fracturing process used to extract the gas.
(Reporting by Andrew Osborn; editing by John Stonestreet)
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