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Angela Merkel keen for Britain to stay in European Union

Published 17/02/2016

Angela Merkel has said she wants Britain to remain an 'active member' of the European Union (AP)
Angela Merkel has said she wants Britain to remain an 'active member' of the European Union (AP)

Chancellor Angela Merkel has said it is in Germany's national interest for Britain to remain in the European Union (EU).

In a speech to parliament, she also pressed her fellow European leaders to work with Turkey to curb the migrant influx.

An EU summit on Thursday and Friday aims to reach an agreement on a package of measures to keep Britain in the 28-nation bloc and Ms Merkel hopes to make some headway toward a European solution to the migrant crisis.

Ms Merkel painted a largely positive picture of chances of an agreement on Britain's EU reform demands.

Prime Minister David Cameron hopes to secure a deal for a looser union with the bloc and then plans to hold a referendum on whether Britain should stay in the EU.

"Germany will make its contribution so that a result that satisfies everyone can be achieved, if possible already at the summit beginning tomorrow," Ms Merkel said.

"I am convinced that is in our national interest for Great Britain to remain an active member in a strong and successful European Union."

Ms Merkel said Britain is an ally for Germany in promoting competitiveness and free trade, and that "Europe needs Great Britain's foreign and security policy commitment to assert our values and interests in the world".

Germany's open-door stance to asylum-seekers has been under increasing pressure both from abroad and at home, including from within her own conservative bloc.

Ms Merkel made clear she will not be pushing the contentious subject of new quotas to distribute migrants around Europe.

She reiterated it would be "laughable" for Europe to approve such quotas when it has barely started to share refugees under existing agreements.

Instead, she said, the key issue is to work with Turkey to try to stem the flow of migrants across the Aegean Sea to EU member Greece - a crossing that more than a million people made last year - rather than shutting down Greece's northern border with Macedonia.

"Our common goal is to drastically and lastingly reduce the number of refugees so as to better help those people who really need our assistance," she said.

Meanwhile, France's prime minister told his country's parliament that a British exit from the EU would be a shock to Europe and the world.

Speaking at the National Assembly, Manuel Valls said that "we hope and think" that a deal can be reached that satisfies Britain.

Mr Valls warned lawmakers that a so-called "Brexit" would send shockwaves "that we have trouble imagining in terms of the consequences on Europe".

He added that it will also have ramifications beyond the EU and change the world view of Europe as a whole.

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