PM warns EU must change and not be 'out-competed' by rivals
PRIME Minister David Cameron has insisted Britain was not "turning our backs on Europe", as he met fellow EU leaders for the first time since announcing his plan to stage an in/out referendum on UK membership.
Mr Cameron held brief talks with several European leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he issued a warning that the EU must change because it is being "out-competed, out-invested and out-innovated" by rivals around the globe.
But in London, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg renewed his assault on Mr Cameron's "vague" plans to renegotiate the terms of Britain's EU membership before staging a referendum by the end of 2017.
Mr Clegg told LBC 97.3 radio: "I simply don't understand the point of spending years tying yourself up in knots, so-called renegotiating the terms of British membership in ways which at the moment at least are completely vague.
"I think that discourages investment and inhibits growth and jobs, which have to remain our priority at a time when the economy is still struggling to recover."
The aim of any renegotiation was unclear, he said. "Either it's just basically a bit symbolic, so you tweak a social law here and an environmental law there, which everyone will agree with – in which case what's all the fuss about? Or you're going to do something which I think is wholly implausible, which is basically to totally rewrite the rules to benefit us and disadvantage everybody else, which is not going to be agreed to."
Meanwhile, Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "I do not think it makes sense, now, to commit to an in/out referendum years ahead."