* UK PM to give major Europe speech on Friday
* Under pressure from own party to claw back powers
* But big business, others, urge extreme caution
* European partners nervous
By Andrew Osborn and Peter Griffiths
LONDON, Jan 16 British Prime Minister David
Cameron came under renewed pressure to loosen his country's ties
with the European Union on Wednesday, two days ahead of a major
speech in which he will spell out plans to renegotiate Britain's
membership of the EU.
As different interests jockey to influence the content of
his speech, which some politicians believe may end up reshaping
Britain's role in the world, a group of influential lawmakers in
Cameron's own ruling Conservative party published a list of
areas where they want decision-making brought back to London.
The fact that the group, who represent about one third of
Cameron's parliamentary party, drew up the "Manifesto for
Change", illustrates how much pressure Cameron is under from
within his own party, the senior partner in a two-party
coalition, to dilute Britain's four-decade-old EU links.
Cameron will deliver his speech - one of the most
closely-watched Europe addresses by a British leader since World
War Two - in Amsterdam on Friday, a choice meant to underline
the fact that some other EU member states such as the
Netherlands are sympathetic to many of his policies towards the
He is expected to say he will offer a referendum on any new
settlement he manages to hammer out with the EU, probably in
2018. His prospects of success are uncertain, however, as it is
unclear whether some other EU member states, notably Germany and
France, will go along with his plan.
Andrea Leadsom, a Conservative MP and one of the group's
founders, said she thought Cameron's proposed EU renegotiation
strategy and the specific ideas her own group was pushing were
"In our manifesto we are very carefully treading a fine line
between calling for things that are just going to be a
non-starter, where the rest of Europe will say 'just forget it',
and choosing those topics that are really important to Britain,
that would really be a game-changer for Britain's relationship
with the EU," she told BBC radio.
Areas where the MPs, who call themselves the Fresh Start
group, would like to see powers clawed back include large
swathes of employment, social and criminal justice law. They are
also pressing for an "emergency brake" on new laws that could
affect Britain's powerhouse financial services industry, and are
demanding that the EU's agriculture and fisheries budget be
The MPs are also asking Cameron to withdraw Britain from the
EU's "regional policy" which sees EU funds handed out to poorer
regions, and to press him to restrict the rights of future
immigrants from countries such as Romania and Bulgaria.
Though Cameron says he is adamant he wants his country to
remain a member of the 27-nation EU, senior allies such as
George Osborne, the finance minister, have been more ambiguous
suggesting the EU must reform itself if London is to stay in it.
Cameron faces pressure from another less influential wing of
his party to back away from his renegotiation plans. Ken Clarke,
a minister without portfolio, warned the premier against
diluting Britain's influence in a newspaper interview on
David Miliband, a member of the opposition Labour party and
a former British foreign minister, sounded a similar note of
caution as did Nigel Sheinwald, Britain's former ambassador to
the United States.
Prominent business leaders have also told Cameron not to
damage ties with the EU, Britain's biggest trading partner.
France in particular appears anxious about Cameron's EU
"It's up to the British to say what they want to do," French
Europe Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told Reuters.
"The single market has given a lot to the British, but they
have also given a lot to the single market. It is not in the
interests of the single market to see the British leave. And the
British know very well it is not in their interest to leave the
Cameron is expected to brief Conservative members of his
cabinet on the contents of his speech on Wednesday, but will
exclude ministers from his junior coalition partner - the