Merkel wants Britain to stay in EU fold

June 03, 2014 - 12:34:32 am

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday that she hopes Britain will stay in the EU, amid wrangling over a top EU job that reportedly prompted an exit warning by the British prime minister.

Merkel reiterated that she was pressing “in all the talks that I have” for former Luxembourg premier Jean-Claude Juncker to gain majority backing to become the EU Commission’s next president. But she said she hoped such a “controversial” decision would be taken in the “spirit of Europe” which meant seeking the “highest degree of consensus”. 

“Therefore it’s not as though I don’t mind, for example, whether Britain is a member of the European Union or not,” Merkel told a joint press conference with the visiting Georgian prime minister. Her spokesman had also earlier said that Britain belonged in the EU and that neither Merkel nor her government was “indifferent” as to whether non-euro member Britain was part of the wider 28-nation bloc.

“On the contrary, we’re convinced Britain belongs in the EU,” Steffen Seibert told reporters, adding Britain had gained much from its European membership, but also had a lot to contribute. AFP