With a referendum over British EU membership planned for 2016, the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron has visited Poland during his “whistle-stop tour” of Europe, seeking support from leaders of European Union countries to make changes in EU laws especially with regard to welfare payments to EU migrants in Britain.
After meeting with Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, Cameron headed to Germany for the last part of his tour to meet with German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Polish foreign minister Grzegorz Schetyna Schetyna said that there are 800,000 Poles in Great Britain.
"We want Great Britain to stay in the EU. But the interest of Poles, our citizens who live in Great Britain is important," Foreign Minister added.
"It's a question of the joint market, these are basic questions. We understand the British stance. But there are also EU fundamentals on which joint Europe was forged. It will be a tough conversation, but very firm on the Polish side."
The meeting of David Cameron and his counterpart Ewa Kopacz was considered “very difficult” by the Polish minister of European affairs Rafal Trzaskowski.
"As far as treaty changes are concerned or the introduction of discriminatory measures, that would be a red line for Poland,” Trzaskowski added.
"If every country comes with a shopping list to change European Union policies, that will be the end of the European construction, it will simply implode."
Visits to the Netherlands and France
On Thursday, Cameron met with Mark Rutte, prime minister of the Netherlands, in the Hague for lunch before moving on to Paris to meet French President Francois Hollande for dinner.
Cameron said the Netherlands is Britain’s “very strong ally,” after the meeting. He added that they talked about “European reform, the need for flexibility and the need to focus on growth and jobs.”
After dinner with Cameron, French President Francois Hollande said that Britain should remain in the European Union on Thursday.
“France wants Great Britain to stay in the European Union. There will be a referendum and it will be up to the British people to choose what it wants for its future,” Hollande stated.
“We think it's in the interest of Europe and in the interest of the United Kingdom to be together but the people must always be respected," the statement continued.
David Cameron said that "the status quo is not good enough, I believe there are changes we can make that will benefit not just Britain, but the rest of Europe, too."
"We have different priorities but we share a common objective, which is to find solutions to these problems and what matters is that the European Union and its 28 members are flexible and imaginative enough to respond to these issues and to work together to find answers that will make the European Union more successful."
On Thursday, the same day the British prime minister's European tour began, legislation regarding the referendum was introduced to parliament and the House of Commons began debating the bill, which will be voted on formally on June 9.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday officially announced a strongly debated European Union (EU) referendum proposal during her speech announcing Prime Minister David Cameron’s legislative plan for next year, which was an official starting point for the much awaited renegotiation process.
“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,” said the Queen.
The latest surveys in the UK indicate a majority of voters are in favour of staying in the EU, with a recent survey by YouGov showing 45 percent of UK citizens would vote in favour of staying as part of the EU and 36 percent would vote to leave it.
However, the results of such surveys vary widely. Surveys conducted earlier in the year by Opinium showed a majority of UK citizens want to leave the EU.