The Malta Independent 15 August 2018, Wednesday

Cameron begins whirlwind tour of EU to seek backing for deal

Associated Press Friday, 5 February 2016, 11:35 Last update: about 4 years ago

British Prime Minister David Cameron has begun a two-week tour of European capitals to seek support for a new deal with the European Union that would reform his nation's relationship with the 28-member bloc.

Cameron began his diplomatic tour Friday morning in Warsaw, where Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said Poland supports Cameron's demands for lessening bureaucracy, increasing competitiveness and keeping greater powers with national parliaments.

"There is absolutely full consensus between us here," Szydlo said.

But she also said the two sides are still seeking compromise on the matter of welfare benefits for the more than 1 million Poles working in Britain. She said they contribute to Britain's GDP and deserve the same rights as British citizens.

Cameron will hold meetings in Copenhagen, Denmark, later on Friday.

Cameron's tour is meant to win support from often-skeptical leaders for a new deal with the EU that would give Britain the right to loosen some of its ties with a bloc that it considers overly bureaucratic and it feels is going too far in seeker ever-closer union.

Cameron's plan would limit some welfare rights for migrant workers — a key sticking point for EU members with large numbers of migrant workers in Britain.

Cameron hopes to secure a deal with the 27 other members of the EU at a Feb. 18-19 summit. He describes it as a condition for keeping his country in the bloc, with a referendum planned on that, probably in June.

Standing alongside Szydlo, Cameron said that he wants a "Europe that respects and understands the importance of nation states and the role that they play." That kind of message is welcomed by Poland's current leadership, which also seeks greater national sovereignty within the EU.

During his visit to Warsaw Cameron also held a private meeting with Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of the conservative Law and Justice party, which swept to power last year. Kaczynski is widely seen as the key power player in Poland today, with greater authority than either Szydlo or President Andrzej Duda.

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