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UK PM David Cameron pushes case for better EU deal in British referendum -

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MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The British prime minister David Cameron this week will embark on a charm offensive of Europe to push his case for a better deal for the UK within the European Union.

His unexpectedly decisive general election win has giving him more authority on the continent as he seeks concessions from Europe before staging a promised vote on whether Britain should stay in the bloc.

Debate on this issue is set to dominate Mr Cameron's second term and even the rules for the referendum are drawing fire. Australians living in the UK will be able to cast their vote on this crucial question, but not younger Brits or many who've been living in Europe.

Europe correspondent Mary Gearin reports from London.

MARY GEARIN: There ought to have been interesting talk over canapes when David Cameron hosted European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker today at Chequers, the PM's stately home.

After all, this is what Mr Cameron said last year as Mr Juncker was gunning for the top Euro job:

DAVID CAMERON: Jean-Claude Juncker has been at the heart of the project to increase the power of Brussels and reduce the power of nation states for his entire working life. He is not the right person to take this organisation forward.

MARY GEARIN: Presumably they'll get over any awkwardness by getting down to business about how many concessions the EU might make to Britain to avoid a so-called Brexit - that is, a British exit from the EU.

Mr Cameron staked his campaign on holding a referendum by 2017 to decide the matter.

And now it's been announced Australians in the UK will be able to cast a vote, along with other Commonwealth citizens, but not 16 or 17 year olds who in Scotland were allowed to vote on Independence, nor the 1.5 million EU citizens living in Britain, nor the Brits who've been abroad for more than 15 years.

It's the same eligibility criteria as for any general election and might well knock many pro-Europe youth or expat voices from the mix.

Generally euro-sceptic voices have approved of the eligibility decision, such as UK Independence Party MP Douglas Carswell.

DOUGLAS CARSWELL: We're having a referendum because the people that we elect to the House of Commons are seeking the opinion of those who elected them there, it would be very odd if we changed the franchise.

MARY GEARIN: UKIP's voice is significant because its remarkable journey from party on the margins to the third largest in the UK was partly on the back of its policy to pull out of the EU.

So Mr Cameron is facing a complex task. Privately he and some crucial senior Tory figures are known to want Britain to stay in the EU club. And he's already said Britain won't be demanding a change to the treaty underpinning the bloc. Instead it will resist closer ties, push for more migration controls and freer EU markets.

Former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson says Britain's economy would thrive if it were cut loose from the EU.

OWEN PATERSON: We would actually enhance our role, we would re-galvanise the single market where we know on things like services there's a lot more to be done. But above all we would re-galvanise the anglosphere at the international level, working with allies and re-galvanise world free trade.

MARY GEARIN: Lord Jonathan Hill, Britain's member of the European Commission, says this is like the first few overs of a five day test match and Britain's true interests will become clear as the debate progresses.

JONATHAN HILL: You can't have your cake and eat it, you can't have easy access to single market, you can't be part of free trade negotiations, you can't be part of an effective European diplomacy without being a full member of it.

MARY GEARIN: David Cameron will visit five European leaders in two days later this week to put a framework in place for talks at the European Council in June. His task as negotiator may never be more important.

This is Mary Gearin in London for AM.