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British PM Cameron wants EU employment law exemption: reports
[LONDON] British Prime Minister David Cameron is seeking a British exemption from European Union employment laws as part of his push to gain more autonomy from Brussels, newspapers said Saturday.
The Conservative leader wants to restore opt-outs on EU legislation that were given up by Labour prime minister Tony Blair, who led the country from 1997-2007, both The Times and The Daily Telegraph reported, citing unnamed sources.
The British newspapers said Mr Cameron wants exemptions from rules on working time limits and equal rights for temporary workers.
Mr Cameron's Downing Street office said the reports were "speculation," but added that the premier had made it clear he wants to reduce "unnecessary EU legislation".
The recently re-elected British premier is seeking to renegotiate Britain's EU terms of membership and then hold an in-or-out referendum on the outcome by the end of 2017.
"This is just more of the speculation we said there would be during the negotiation," a Downing Street spokesman said.
"The prime minister has set out the four priority areas for reform and made clear that cutting back on unnecessary EU regulation is part of making Europe more competitive.
"As the PM has said before: Europe if necessary, national when possible." The working time directive imposes a 48-hour limit on the working week, although workers can choose to do longer hours.
The Times quoted an unnamed senior Conservative as saying: "A big item is the return of the opt-out from social and employment legislation that would include the working time and temporary worker directives.
"For later on, we want a protocol and line in a future treaty saying employment conditions are the responsibility of member states." Mr Cameron also wants to secure stricter requirements for EU migrants in claiming British welfare benefits, and for London to be given greater powers to opt out of EU policies even as other European states deepen integration.