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Italy's Monti 'confident' Britain would vote to stay in EU

23 January 2013, 18:42 CET
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(DAVOS) - Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Wednesday he believed British citizens would vote to stay in the EU, after his British counterpart David Cameron announced plans for a referendum.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Monti said: "I am confident that if there is to be a referendum, the UK citizens will decide to stay in the EU and contribute to shape its future.

"I think the EU does not need unwilling Europeans. We desperately need willing Europeans," he said to applause from the assembled political and business leaders.

Monti said there was an "advantage" in putting a direct question on European Union membership to the electorate, even if there "other aspects I may agree less" with in Cameron's speech.

He added: "If you ask them the fundamental question: would you prefer, UK citizens, that the UK remains a member of the EU or that we leave the EU, I don't know what the UK citizens will say.

"But I feel pretty confident that all the costs and benefits of this decision will become explicit and I think this will facilitate a decision in the interest of all Europeans."

Cameron said earlier Wednesday that he would call an in-out referendum by the end of 2017 if his party wins the next election in 2015.

He said he wanted to renegotiate the terms of Britain's troubled membership of the EU before putting the new agreement to a vote.

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