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Monti Confident U.K. Citizens Would Vote to Stay in Europe

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Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti praised U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s view on a referendum on European Union membership, saying a vote would prompt citizens to realize the benefits of staying in the group.

“I am confident that if there is to be referendum one day, the U.K. citizens will decide to stay in the European Union and contribute to shape its future,” Monti said today in a speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The EU “doesn’t need unwilling Europeans. We desperately need willing Europeans.”

Cameron today pledged a referendum on Britain leaving the EU, describing British backing for the status quo in Europe as “wafer thin.” The question, he said, would be put to popular vote by the end of 2017 if Cameron is re-elected in two years and once he has negotiated a return of some powers to the U.K.

“There is an advantage in the idea of eventually putting to the people the real question in a referendum,” Monti said. “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 interests of all Europeans.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Frye in Milan at afrye@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net.

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