×

Europe's leaders push UK to lay its case for reform

Europe's leaders are still unclear on what the U.K. wants from the European Union (EU) as the Prime Minister David Cameron crosses the region tries to renegotiate his country's membership ahead of an in-out referendum.

While Cameron has said he is looking to repatriate powers back from the EU, cut red tape and restrict the numbers of migrants able to travel, work or claim benefits in the U.K., some of his fellow leaders are wondering why Britain wants to change something that benefits its economy.

"I don't know if what U.K. wants is lighter EU," Pierre Gramegna, Luxembourg's finance minister told CNBC Wednesday.

"They say (they want a) 'different' or 'more efficient' EU. What the EU commission has said and what we also subscribe to is that the four pillars of the EU -- the freedoms on which we built the EU – free flow of people, capital, goods and services – are essential."

Read MoreUK's EU referendum may be sooner than you think

"These pillars have been beneficial to all of us and particularly the U.K. so why change those pillars?," he said.

Cameron made a whistle-stop tour of five European capitals last week in order to drum up support for a reformed Europe but his attempts fell largely on deaf ears. The prime minister hopes is expected to attempt to speak to all 27 EU leaders individually before a European Council meeting at the end of June where he is expected to set out his reform plans in more detail.

Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

While the visits to his European counterparts were cordial with diplomatic statements that Europe would try to find a mutually beneficial solution to keep the U.K. in the EU, the details of British demands were notable for their absence.

Emmanuel Macron, France's economy minister, told CNBC Wednesday that he was unsure what would help to keep the country in the union.

"It depends on the U.K. proposal. Our view is that they want more…simplicity in a sense," he said.

"And if they want reform to make the EU more adapted to the reality with less bureaucracy, more rapidity… I mean, that's a good proposal. Something we can accept.

Read MoreEurope vs. UK: Battle lines drawn over migrants

"(But) if their requirement is just to stop with Europe, or to decrease our ambitions, or to stop some initiatives on freedom of movement, or so on then definitely, it's not acceptable," he warned.

Speaking to CNBC Wednesday, senior European officials expressed confusion as to what the U.K. wanted.

"We also have a treaty that guarantees we respect those pillars. If this remains untouched, a lot of things can be adjusted," he said.

- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt. Follow us on Twitter: @CNBCWorld