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Britain: Cameron embarks on delicate European charm offensive - "do what I say or else"

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron this week faces a delicate task when he embarks on a whirlwind diplomatic tour to try to convince European leaders to help him push for a string of EU reforms to scale back Brussel's overriding political powers. The tour comes on the back of Cameron’s campaign pledge to reshape Britain’s ties with the European Union, which helped his Conservative Party win an outright majority in the May 7 elections.

Under pressure from eurosceptics, the British prime minister promised in 2013 to hold a referendum on whether Britain should leave Europe by 2017 if he won the general election.

On Wednesday, Queen Elizabeth II confirmed the government’s plans to hold an in-or-out EU vote as she read out a list of proposed legislation at the State Opening of Parliament in London.

“My government will renegotiate the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union and pursue reform of the European Union for the benefit of all member states,” the queen said in her speech.

Yves Bertoncini, director of the Paris-based think-tank Institut Jacques Delors, said that while “Denmark and the Netherlands are expected to lend Cameron a supportive ear when it comes to (curbing) migration… Germany and Sweden, who need migration for the sake of their economies, are sure to be opposed”.

Given that Cameron will need unanimous support from EU’s members in order to push through any treaty changes, Bertoncini said the British premier is dealing with “a real challenge” to get everyone on board.

If Cameron fails to show his electorate that he has been able to renegotiate Britain’s position ahead of the referendum, Britain could very well be heading towards an EU exit – but without any of the necessary alliances in place, Bertoncini said.

“The United Kingdom would find itself in a hopeless situation, and be pressured from all corners. Neither the Europeans nor the Americans have any interest in losing this powerful ally in the heart of Europe.”

Read more: Europe - Cameron embarks on delicate European charm offensive - France 24

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