British Finance Minister George Osborne said on Tuesday (12 May) that the new British government would be constructive but firm in negotiations with other EU partners to reform the European Union before a British referendum on its membership of the bloc.

"We come here with a very clear mandate to improve Britain's relationship with the rest of the EU and to reform the EU so that it creates jobs and increases living standards for all its citizens," Osborne said as he arrived for a meeting of European Union finance ministers.

"We go into the negotiations aiming to be constructive and engaged, but also resolute and firm and no one should underestimate our determination to succeed for the working people of Britain, indeed the working people of the whole of the European Union," Osborne added.

Austria's Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling said such a referendum was a way for politicians to avoid taking the responsibility for tough decisions.

"I think politicians have to act decisively. And when politicians believe they have to ask the people, it's an indication that they themselves are not willing to make the decisions and carry the consequences," Schelling said.

"I think Great Britain needs the EU, and the EU needs Great Britain, and that's why we are in the same boat."