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European Union/British referendum

Published on February 18, 2016
Reply by M. Harlem Désir, Minister of State for European Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly
Paris, February 17, 2016

As the Prime Minister has just said, we think that it’s in the United Kingdom’s interest to remain in the European Union and that it’s in Europe’s interest to remain united. It will of course be up to British citizens to decide in the referendum that will be organized in a few months’ time. But we believe and hope that the agreement being negotiated will enable us to create conditions for a vote in favour. This must obviously not be done to the detriment of the principles and values at the EU’s foundation which made France and the other five founding countries launch the European project, later joined by the UK and many other countries on the continent when they saw this was where Europe’s future was being played out.

The proposals by European Council President Donald Tusk, which will be discussed at the European Council of 18 and 19 February, respect the three fundamental demands France has made since the beginning of this discussion: firstly, no revision of the treaties, no right of veto by the UK over the Euro Area’s future integration, and thirdly no questioning of the principle of free movement of European citizens and workers within the EU.

However, there’s still work to be done on several issues; they were mentioned by the Prime Minister. I’d like to emphasize one in particular, namely the integrity of the internal market in financial services. In fact, even though the UK hasn’t decided to join the Euro Area, all 28 of us adopted together a number of rules on regulating the financial markets, rules for the security of the banking system and oversight of financial transactions within the European Union. It must be possible for those rules to be applied throughout the EU and for there to be oversight throughout the EU.
So we’ll pay close attention to this, but above all we want the European Union to continue whatever the result of the British referendum and, beyond that date, to deepen./.

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