Cameron: 'Stratospheric Unemployment' Fueling EU Debate

David Cameron
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David Cameron

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has said the debate over the role of the European Union (EU) wasn't surprising given the "stratospheric" levels of unemployment in countries like Spain.

Speaking at the Global Investment Conference in London, Cameron defended his government's plan to stay within the EU but to renegotiate Britain's relationship with the group of countries, just days after a former finance minister said the EU had reached its "sell-by-date".

Nigel Lawson, who served as chancellor of the exchequer under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, said the EU had become "a bureaucratic monstrosity" and the case for a British exit from the European Union "is clear."

The U.K. Prime Minister is under pressure from Lawson and other members of his party after the euro-skeptic Independence Party (UKIP) made major gains in recent local elections.

"Frankly, there is a debate taking place right across Europe about the future of the European Union and that is hardly surprising given the stratospheric levels of unemployment in countries like Spain," Cameron said on Thursday.

Cameron said Europe wasn't competitive or flexible enough and that the euro was driving enormous change with countries that are members of the single currency looking at moving closer together on fiscal policy. Given those changes, Cameron said it was important for the U.K. to re-evaluate its role in Europe.

"It's completely right for Britain to say we want to make some changes in our relationship with the European Union and we want to make some changes in the European Union itself."

Cameron also said the idea of a European financial transaction tax was bad and would make the U.K.'s financial sector less competitive.