A European Union without Britain would be “impossible”, says Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

This comment comes after Renzi met with David Cameron to discuss his plans to reshape Britain’s relationship with the EU before an in-out referendum.

“For us it is a priority (that) the UK can continue to work inside the European Union because a European Union without the UK is impossible,” Renzi said, after lunch with Cameron in Milan.

Reelected last month, David Cameron pledged to hold the referendum by the end of 2017. He is seeking changes to EU treaties, which it says are needed to achieve reforms to EU migrants’ access to welfare payments.

In the wake of Cameron’s plans, Ireland’s Minister for European Affairs Dara Murphy told BBC Radio on Wednesday that his country had begun contingency planning for a British exit from the EU.