David Cameron’s hopes of renegotiating Britain’s relationship with the European Union have received a boost after Germany said the UK must not be put at a disadvantage by eurozone nations’ moves to integrate more closely.
Chancellor George Osborne and his German counterpart Wolfgang Schauble said any changes to EU treaties must “guarantee fairness” for member states outside the currency bloc.
The declaration meets one of Mr Cameron’s key negotiating demands – that the rights of non-eurozone states must be protected – ahead of his planned 2017 referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.
In a joint article published in a national newspaper, Mr Osborne and Mr Schauble said Britain and Germany accepted that the eurozone crisis meant members of the single currency needed a common fiscal and economic policy.
“The UK fully recognises the progress made so far in responding to the crisis, and it supports the case for further steps forward. But as the euro area continues to integrate, it is important that countries outside the euro area are not at a systematic disadvantage in the EU,” they wrote.
“So future EU reform must include reform of the governance framework to put euro area integration on a sound legal basis, and guarantee fairness for those EU countries inside the single market but outside the single currency.”
The statement will be seen as evidence that Mr Cameron’sefforts to court German chancellor Angela Merkel are bearing fruit.