George Osborne has urged Germany to join the UK as partners in a “deal” to reform the European Union and deliver the changes needed for Britain to remain a member.
Speaking to the German equivalent of the CBI in Berlin yesterday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer set out details of safeguards Britain is seeking for EU states outside the single currency – including legally binding assurances they will not be called on to bail out eurozone members and their companies will not face discrimination due to their country of origin.
Mr Osborne’s comments came as German chancellor Angela Merkel told the same conference that her country “will do what we can so that Britain can stay” in the EU.
The Chancellor told the BDI industrial body that Britain is not seeking any new “opt-outs” or new powers to veto the closer integration of the eurozone which Berlin is seeking, but wants safeguards for non-euro states embedded in EU law.
Rewriting the fundamental principles underpinning the EU to recognise that the 28-nation bloc has more than one currency and to protect the rights of members which do not use the euro would be good not only for Britain but for all of Europe, he said.
“When it comes to the relationship between those who use the euro and those who do not, here’s the deal,” said Mr Osborne. “You get a eurozone that works better. We get a guarantee that eurozone decisions and costs are not imposed on us.
“You get a stronger euro. We make sure the voice of the pound is heard when it should be. A deal that is written into law. A deal that is good for Britain. And a deal that is good for Germany too. The result will be a better EU, stronger economically so it becomes more competitive in the world and supports the creation of jobs and higher living standards for all its citizens, stronger constitutionally so it works better for the 19 countries of the eurozone and better for the 28 countries of the single market.
“I ask you to work with us to make these changes and to form a partnership... Let Britain and Germany work together as partners for a European Union that works better for all of us and deliver that brighter and more secure future for all of our citizens.”
Mr Osborne’s speech amounted to the most detailed explanation yet of the changes Britain is seeking in the renegotiation of its EU membership ahead of the in/out referendum promised by the end of 2017.