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UK PM proposes referendum on EU membership

UK Prime Minister David Cameron [official website] on Wednesday announced his plan for a nationwide referendum [transcript; press release] on whether the UK should remain part of the European Union (EU) [official website] following the country's next election in 2015. Though Cameron stressed reluctance to leave the EU altogether, he explained that the institution has become too involved in bureaucratic processes [Reuters report] rather than trade deals, and that he wishes to see his country and the EU agree on several reforms to combat the eurozone debt crisis [The Guardian backgrounder]. Advocating change, Cameron further asserted that the UK would fight to ensure that new rules dealing with the crisis were fair to the 10 EU countries that do not currently use the euro as common currency. Ultimately, he declared that the referendum, which he hopes would be held by the end of 2017, would present British citizens with a simple "in-out" choice on whether to stay in the EU after his highly-sought re-negotiations of the UK's membership have concluded.

In October 2011 the UK Parliament [official website] voted 483-111 against holding a national referendum [JURIST report] on remaining an EU member. In that proposal, the referendum would have put forward three options for a vote: to remain in the EU, to leave the EU, or to re-negotiate membership terms. In 1975 the UK held a referendum [BBC backgrounder] to determine whether to leave the European Economic Community (EEC). There, only two years after the country had joined the EEC, just over 67 percent of voters supported the move to remain in the European institution.

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