Britain's Osborne insists his government will be constructive in EU reform negotiations

Associated Press

British finance minister George Osborne has insisted that his recently re-elected Conservative government will be "constructive and engaged" in negotiations to reform the European Union ahead of a planned referendum on British membership.

Arriving for talks Tuesday with fellow finance ministers across the 28-country EU, Osborne says his Conservative Party has a "very clear mandate to improve Britain's relationship with the rest of the EU and to reform the EU so it creates jobs and increases living standards for all its citizens."

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A referendum on Britain's membership of the EU by the end of 2017 was a key plank of the Conservatives' winning manifesto in the British general election last week.

Osborne refused to address growing speculation that the referendum may be brought forward a year to 2016.