* UK's Cameron: Euro zone crisis will lead to big reforms
* Britain must use those changes to reshape its EU role
* Cameron under pressure from anti-EU camp; behind in polls
By Peter Griffiths
BRUSSELS, Dec 14 Britain must use the upheaval
created by the euro zone crisis to forge a new relationship with
the European Union, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Friday
as he fights a rising anti-EU mood at home that could threaten
his chances of re-election.
Speaking at the end of a summit of EU leaders that secured
the first part of a banking union, Cameron played down fears
Britain's future lies on the margins of a two-tier Europe, while
euro zone members build an ever-stronger core.
"I don't think Britain is in an uncomfortable position at
all," he told a news conference in Brussels at the end of the
two-day summit. "We're in a position where we have opportunities
to maximise what we want from our relationship."
Cameron, trailing in the polls before a 2015 election, is
under pressure from the anti-EU camp in his ruling Conservative
Party to reshape Britain's role in Europe or leave the bloc all
together after nearly 40 years in the union.
Along with the sluggish economy, Britain's ties with Europe
will be one of the fiercest battlegrounds in the election. Polls
suggest around half of Britons want to leave Europe and a third
want to stay in, with the number of those who want out rising.
Cameron said the summit deal on banking supervision was a
sign of the huge changes that lie ahead for the euro zone, a
club that Britain does not want to join. Those reforms must be
matched by a shift in Britain's position in Europe, he said.
"It will lead to opportunities for us in the UK to make
changes in our relationship with the European Union that will
suit us better, which the British people will feel more
comfortable about," Cameron said.
DECADES OF DIVISION
In a sign of the sensitivity of the EU debate, Cameron has
again delayed a setpiece European speech that was due to lay out
his views on a subject that has divided the country for decades.
Cameron rejects the idea of an "in or out" vote in favour of
a referendum on a new role inside the EU, Britain's biggest
trading partner. Under a law passed in 2011, a major transfer of
power from London to Brussels in any change to the EU treaty
must be put to a public vote.
His talk of a new deal for Britain in Europe may not be
sufficient to silence his party's eurosceptics, a powerful group
that helped to bring down the Conservatives' last two prime
ministers, Margaret Thatcher and John Major.
Anti-EU rebels gave Cameron his first major parliamentary
defeat in October in a vote calling for EU budget cuts. The
increasingly popular UK Independence Party, a fringe group that
wants Britain to pull out of Europe, is also a threat.
Cameron must tread a delicate line between talking tough on
Brussels to appeal to eurosceptics, and striking a conciliatory
tone that will play well with often exasperated EU neighbours
and his pro-EU coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats.
In stark contrast to a summit last December when Britain was
isolated after blocking a deal on closer fiscal ties, Cameron's
role this time was more low key.
"This wasn't really our fight," one British official said,
referring to London's position outside the euro zone.