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Cameron aims to begin talks on UK's EU membership

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, welcomes Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron for talks in Berlin yesterday. Picture by Markus Schreiber, AP Photo
Andrew Woodcock

DAVID Cameron is hoping to kick-start formal talks on reform of Britain's membership of the European Union today, as he addresses leaders of the 28-nation bloc at a European Summit in Brussels.

The British Prime Minister wants talks this summer on the UK's concerns about sovereignty, immigration, economic competitiveness and protecting the interests of EU members which do not use the euro.

A referendum on Britain's EU membership will be held at the end of 2017.

However, the summit is likely to be overshadowed by negotiations on the Greek debt crisis and talks on the surge in migrants entering Europe by boat across the Mediterranean.

Speaking before his departure for Brussels, Mr Cameron said: "It will take us another step closer to addressing the concerns that the British people have about the EU".

The Prime Minister has yet to produce a definitive final statement of the reforms he is seeking, but he has made clear they would include a ban on EU migrants claiming benefits for their first four years in the UK.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee in the Republic issued a report calling for a way to be found for the UK to remain in the EU.

The report by the Joint Committee for European Union Affairs of the Oireachtas called for negotiations to "commence immediately to find an accommodation for the UK within the EU, without undermining the core values of the EU and, if possible, without treaty change".

Any changes to the UK's EU membership should respect the "special status" of the Irish/UK relationship and maintain all arrangements on citizenship, unrestricted travel, open borders and trade, the report said.

Chairman Dominic Hannigan said: "The Committee's view is that an EU without the UK weakens Ireland and Europe."

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