France, Germany wary of possible British EU exit
AFPBERLIN/PARIS--France on Wednesday branded British Prime Minister David Cameron's plan to hold an in-out referendum on its European Union membership as dangerous.
January 24, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
“It risks being dangerous for Britain itself because Britain outside of Europe, that will be difficult,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told France Info radio.
France wants Britain to play a positive role in the EU but cannot accept that member states are allowed to pick and choose which policies they sign up to, Fabius said in a response to Cameron's announcement that he will seek to renegotiate the terms of Britain's EU membership.
“We can't have Europe a la carte,” Fabius insisted. “Imagine the EU was a football club: once you've joined up and you're in this club, you can't then say you want to play rugby.”
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Wednesday that Berlin hoped Britain would stay in the EU but rejected “cherry-picking,” after David Cameron announced an in-or-out referendum.
“Germany wants the United Kingdom to remain an active and constructive part of the European Union,” Westerwelle said, in reaction to the British prime minister's keenly awaited speech.
He said Germany, as the driving force behind new initiatives for greater European economic policy coordination to beat the eurozone debt turmoil, believed such reforms were in the interest of all.
“We strive to create a better Europe, the European Union becoming even stronger with overcoming the debt crisis and regaining global competitiveness,” he told reporters in a statement given first in German, then in English.
“Germany wants an ambitious reform of the economic and monetary union. In such decisive issues as the future of the common currency, we do not need less but more integration.”
But addressing British fears, he said Berlin was not calling for a sacrifice of all national sovereignty. However he insisted EU membership was an all-or-nothing proposition.