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British PM ready to 'do business' with Juncker

Britain's David Cameron faces parliament on Monday over his failure to stop Jean-Claude Juncker becoming the next president of the European Commission, insisting he could "do business" with him to win concessions from the EU.

LONDON: Britain's David Cameron faces parliament on Monday over his failure to stop Jean-Claude Juncker becoming the next president of the European Commission, insisting he could "do business" with him to win concessions from the EU.

The prime minister was set to face criticism from the opposition Labour party in the House of Commons from 1530 (1430 GMT) although eurosceptics in his centre-right Conservative party broadly support his stance.

Cameron telephoned Juncker on Sunday night to congratulate him, and wrote in the Daily Telegraph newspaper that he hoped to work with the former Luxembourg premier to gain a "fair deal" for Britain in Europe.

Cameron has promised to renegotiate Britain's relationship with Brussels before an in-out referendum due in 2017, but critics say his vocal opposition to Juncker and failure to prevent his nomination have hurt his chances of doing so.

"If by a fair deal we can agree that we are not heading, at different speeds, to the same place -- as some have assumed up to now -- then there is business we can do," Cameron wrote.

"I do not oppose further integration within the eurozone. I think it is inevitable. Eurozone members must make those decisions.

"But I know the British people want no part of it."

Cameron forced an unprecedented vote on Juncker's nomination at a European summit in Brussels on Friday but he lost 26-2, with only Hungary's right-wing prime minister Viktor Orban supporting him.

The British premier has said the result could increase the prospects of Britain leaving the 28-member European Union after the referendum on the issue.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told the Financial Times that it would be "unimaginable" for Britain to leave, indicating that other EU nations may be willing to offer concessions.

"Historically, politically, democratically, culturally, Great Britain is entirely indispensable for Europe," the minister, who is a one of Chancellor Angela Merkel's closest confidants, said in an interview with the paper published on Monday.

Cameron has vowed to push for changes in Europe, such as bringing some powers back to Britain, ahead of a referendum to be held if his Conservative party wins a general election next year.

In his call with Juncker on Sunday, Cameron's office said the incoming commission chief had made a "commitment of finding a fair deal for Britain and Mr Juncker said that he was fully committed to finding solutions for the political concerns of the UK."

His piece in the Telegraph echoed that line, and denied that the vote had dealt a "fatal blow" to his strategy of renegotiating Britain's position in Europe over the next three years.

"I do not deny that it has made the task harder and the stakes higher," he added. "But it is not in our nature as a country to give up. That is not what we do."

Britain is now pushing for a prime position among the range of senior EU jobs that will be discussed at a further European Council meeting on 16 July.

Cameron's spokesman indicated on Monday that Britain would likely try for the trade commissioner's job, to push its emphasis on the single market within the EU, as opposed to political union.

"It's no secret the importance the UK attaches to an open, competitive and flexible EU economy," the spokesman said when asked about what posts Britain would push for.

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