UK staying in EU most desirable for us all, says Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stressed she hopes the UK will vote to remain in the European Union in the June 23 referendum.
Britain and Germany have traditionally been allies in the EU on matters such as free trade.
In a speech to a group representing family-owned businesses, Ms Merkel said: "From my point of view, Great Britain remaining in the European Union is the best and most desirable thing for us all."
She added: "We have very close co-operation on many questions with Great Britain, and would of course like to continue this within the framework of the European Union."
Germany has the biggest economy in the 28-nation bloc.
Finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told Der Spiegel magazine that a Brexit would be bad for Britain and the EU.
"It would be a miracle if a withdrawal of Britain would come without economic disadvantages," he said, adding that he and other EU officials are "preparing for all possible scenarios in order to minimise the danger".
Even if Britain's voters choose to remain in the European Union, the referendum shows a dissatisfaction that EU leaders cannot ignore, he said in remarks to Der Spiegel for a Brexit issue titled "Please don't go! Why Germany needs the British".
"We have to see this as a warning and a wake-up call not just to continue business as usual," he said, according to an advance copy of the magazine, which is publishing its Brexit feature in German and English.
Though some have suggested the EU could use a British exit as an opportunity to push through further integration, Mr Schaeuble rejected the idea.
"We cannot simply push for more integration as an answer to a Brexit. That'd be clumsy, and many would correctly question whether we politicians still don't understand."
He suggested that if Britain did leave, it could not expect to continue to enjoy the benefits of the European common market.
"In is in, out is out," he said.