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British EU reform bid will help other members, says George Osborne

George Osborne will tell European leaders that Britain's bid to reform the EU will also benefit their nations during a whistlestop tour of capital cities.

The Chancellor is visiting Helsinki, Stockholm and Copenhagen to build support for the UK's demands for a new settlement in Brussels.

During meetings with Sweden's prime minister Stefan Lofven and Denmark's premier Lars Lokke Rasmussen, as well as foreign and finance ministers, he will warn that reform is key to the future of the EU.

Mr Osborne will also argue that a wave of public support change across Europe makes it the right time to act.

David Cameron has promised to renegotiate the UK's relationship with the EU ahead of an in/out referendum and talks have begun between British officials and counterparts in Brussels.

The Prime Minister wants any deal to ensure national parliaments retain power and stop welfare incentives from attracting people to the country from across Europe.

Mr Osborne's talks will focus on expanding trade with burgeoning economies as well as protecting the rights of non-eurozone countries as the single currency block continues to integrate further.

But the Chancellor is also keen to show that reforms can be achieved in Brussels if Britain and like-minded countries work together and will point to cuts secured in the EU budget in 2012.

Mr Osborne will also carry out a series of media interviews in the capital cities as he attempts to win over wider support in Europe.

It comes after he took centre stage in the drive to overhaul the EU by launching a diplomatic tour that began with two days of talks in Paris last month.

The latest visit is one of a series of meetings he will hold in Europe over the next few months to build on the whirlwind round of discussions Mr Cameron held with counterparts following the Tory general election victory.

Mr Osborne will say: "This government has been given a very clear mandate to renegotiate Britain's relationship with the rest of the EU and to reform the EU so it works for all its citizens. We are determined to deliver a new settlement for Europe that works for everyone within it.

"The results of our efforts will be put to the British people in a referendum and they will decide.

"As part of that, our process of renegotiation must include engaging actively with our key partners in Europe and that's why today's meetings in Finland, Sweden and Denmark are so important."

Mr Osborne flew out to Helsinki ahead of the talks and joined Finnish finance minister Alex Stubb on a navy boat for a river tour.

The Chancellor tweeted a picture of the pair standing on the boat wearing life jackets.

He wrote: "A beautiful afternoon to see archipelago off Helsinki with Alex Stubb and Finnish navy."


From Belfast Telegraph