EU Commissioner Urges Britain Not To Jeopardize EU Membership

Category: Economy / Jan 11, 2013 1:56PM EDT
The EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn warned the British government on Friday (January 11) not to jeopardize the country's membership in the European Union. British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to deliver a speech later this month on how he intends to overhaul Britain's 40-year-old links with Brussels, giving rise to concerns about a possible British exit -- dubbed a "Brexit" -- from the European Union. "Let me also say that if I were a Briton or a UK citizen, I would certainly rather prefer to be in the mid-field as a play-maker than in the sidelines as a substitute in this game. You never score goals from the bench," Rehn said at a breakfast briefing with EU policy makers in Brussels. Britain's relationship with Europe has grown increasingly rocky over the past three years, with a low point reached in late 2011, when 25 of the EU's 27 member states agreed on a new fiscal treaty, leaving Britain and the Czech Republic out. Rehn said 2012 had been a year of crisis. 2013 would require rebalancing and reforms of the eurozone and policies focusing on economic competitiveness and embracing the opportunities offered by free trade agreements with Japan and especially the United States. "It would have a huge potential to boost growth on both sides of the Atlantic, the EU - US trade relation is already the biggest in the world with more than 1.8 billion euro of goods and services traded every day between the EU and the US. An FTA would also help to revitalise our transatlantic partnership at a time when we both face strong head-winds", Rehn said. In his outlook for 2013 Rehn said a comprehensive crisis response was necessary. There would be no silver bullet -- be it fiscal discipline alone or debt mutualization alone -- that could solve this crisis. -Reuters