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Could upcoming speech from PM David Cameron herald potential EU exit for UK?


British Prime Minister David Cameron postponed a long-awaited speech to EU leaders Thursday after it was reported Britons were killed in a terrorist raid of an oil field in Algeria.


Justin Tallis

Upcoming statements from British Prime Minister David Cameron on the uncertain future of his nation's continuing European Union membership are making EU leaders nervous.

In extracts of a long-awaited speech outlining his European vision, Cameron warns that his country could "drift towards" a EU exit unless the economic bloc addresses serious failures in meeting the needs of its citizens.

Cameron's speech was scheduled for today in Amsterdam but was postponed because of the unraveling crisis in Algeria. Bloomberg reported that a new date for the speech has not yet been set.

The British prime minister's comments, in which he demands urgent action to tackle the euro zone crisis, economic competitiveness and declining public support, follow intense debate at home over the UK's continued role in the EU.

Without efforts to address these challenges, "the danger is that Europe will fail and the British people will drift towards the exit," he said.

More from GlobalPost: David Cameron says UK is "perfectly entitled" to reset EU limits

GlobalPost's senior correspondent in London, Barry Neild, said the speech is the "strongest signal to date that [Cameron] is willing to listen the demands of powerful eurosceptics within his own ruling Conservative party.

However he made no mention of whether he would commit to a referendum on Britain's EU membership beyond 2015, when he hopes to use a general election to win backing for plans to renegotiation of the EU treaty."

Cameron had been in discussions with his counterparts in Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands this week as part of efforts to pave the way for what was billed as a significant statement of intention.

Excerpts from the speech have been released to the public, and show that Cameron plans to take a hard line against the EU.

"People are increasingly frustrated that decisions taken further and further away from them mean their living standards are slashed through enforced austerity or their taxes are used to bail out governments on the other side of the continent,” Cameron was due to say, according to Bloomberg.

More from GlobalPost: David Cameron cancels important EU speech over Algeria hostage situation

GlobalPost's Neild reports that Cameron planned to tell European leaders that have a "duty" to tackle public frustration with the EU, otherwise the 27-member union would be condemned to "less competitiveness, less growth, fewer jobs."

The speech will take note of the UK's increasing dissatisfaction with the EU and its "structural change," the BBC reported.

Especially acute was Cameron's concern that EU failure will have an unduly harmful effect on British citizens, part of the motivation behind Conservative lawmakers push for a referendum on EU membership.

Cameron also said his nation wants a "positive vision for the future of the European Union. A future in which Britain wants, and should want, to play a committed and active part."

US President Barack Obama said in a briefing call with Cameron Thursday that “the United States values a strong UK in a strong European Union,” according to BusinessWeek.