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Two Europes in One

WASHINGTON, DC – Informal discussions on the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union are now underway. With a referendum on the UK’s continued EU membership set to take place before the end of 2017, the talks are the first step toward negotiating changes which, EU leaders hope, will convince British voters to choose Europe.

And changes will certainly be needed. Indeed, as Prime Minister David Cameron is well aware, given the current dynamic of the UK’s relationship with the EU, British voters would undoubtedly choose to leave the EU.

But Cameron also knows that he must handle the negotiations with care. If he asks for more than the EU can accommodate, he will look as if he caved in. If he asks for too little, Britain’s Euroskeptics will have more fuel for their campaign against continued membership.

Likewise, if EU leaders give Cameron too much – allowing the UK to reap the benefits of membership, without shouldering the same responsibilities as its partners – their populations could turn on them. But if they give too little, they could lose the UK as a partner.