PARIS, May 29 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron began a two-day, four-country tour of Europe with a goal of renegotiating his country's role in the European Union.
He visited Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte and and French President Francois Hollande on Thursday. Talks with Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are scheduled for Friday, bringing the message that Britain is seriously considering leaving the EU.
Cameron's Conservative Party, campaigning on "a better deal for Britain," won a solid re-election last month, and in 2017 a referendum will be offered British voters on whether to remain in the EU.
To prevent a British exit, or "Brexit," Cameron seeks restrictions on social welfare benefits to legal EU immigrants; assurance that countries that do not use the euro as currency, such as Britain, cannot be hurt by free trade protections in goods and financial services; an exclusion from an obligation to seek an "ever closer union;" and the return of some powers to national parliaments.
While little action is expected from the visits to foreign capitals this week, the tour can be seen as an indication of how much room for negotiation is available.
Membership in the 28-nation bloc has offered distinct advantages for members, but requires obedience to European law. Matters of immigration, border control and human rights have proven sticking points for a number of members.