Bundesbank boss urges Britain to stay in EU

Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann wants the UK to stay in the EU. [Jochen Zick/Flickr]

The head of the Bundesbank appealed to Britain on Wednesday (23 July) to stay in the European Union, saying membership of the bloc had given the country an economic lift and posed little threat to London.

In a speech to business people and bankers in central London, Jens Weidmann broke the central bank's traditional silence on political questions, saying the European Union would benefit if Britain "continues to make its voice heard".

"The EU is stronger today because of Britain's contribution to it," Weidmann said, adding that the country's trade with EU neighbours had been boosted by more than half because of its membership of the bloc.

"As much as the UK gains from being part of the EU, so the EU gains from having the UK as a member," he said.

Weidmann's comments underscore the growing sense of nervousness about the possibility of Britain dropping out of the group of 28 countries that share common rules and club together to negotiate on issues such as trade.

While noting former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's original Eurosceptic warning about the European Union, Weidmann sought to calm fears about a federal-style Europe, saying more centralisation of power was not necessary.

"Improving the workings of the European Union does not automatically require stronger centralisation," he said.

The remarks were in a similar vein to those made by Germany's finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble.

Yet Weidmann's comments, coming from one of the most prominent central bankers in the eurozone, will have little impact on the debate in Britain, which wishes not only to stay outside the euro but also to change its terms of EU membership.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to renegotiate these terms and hold an "in-out" referendum if re-elected in 2015, raising fears the world's sixth-largest economy could quit the club it joined in 1973.

Amid rising anti-EU rhetoric across Britain, relations between London and its European neighbours are already deteriorating. Cameron was recently isolated among his EU peers, for instance, in his attempt to derail Jean-Claude Juncker's bid to become president of the European Commission.

The situation worries many in the City of London, the financial centre that accounts for roughly one-tenth of the British economy, because it would lose out were trading to move to Frankfurt or elsewhere.

Weidmann said Britain's financial sector "stands to gain from dismantling the existing barriers to cross-border trade"



an european's picture

Why Mr.Weidmann?

I heard a lot of companies will leave England !
As formerly explained by GS (posted on euractiv) they will leave with their 7000 workforces onto the city of Europe!
A lot of companies as well (count up) ..I even don't mention the Scots who may leave London in September !
Is the E.U. aware to be prepared of this Situation ? Are Steps done in case of ?

Emanuele's picture

Of course we are prepared. I put my best champagne bottle in the refrigerator.

By the way, a central banker interfering with politics is frankly irritating, and it is not the first time. It is not his role.

an european's picture

Hi Emanuela,
The Bank of England is behaving at the same manner !
But firstly the champagne goes to Scots !

Iwantout's picture

“More centralisation of power was not necessary”, it may not be necessary, but our experience is that the ratchet only works one way, ever greater power to the EU at our expense. It is difficult to think of cases where the EU has ever returned powers. Still perhaps Mr Juncker will recognise this and refrain from following his mentor Jacques Delors.

Interestingly I understood Frau Merkel to say that countries did not have to progress towards the ‘ever closer union’ at the same speed, I did not see her say that the UK could stop entirely, even assuming that we were prepared to remain part of an unreformed EU.