Germany can do little to stop the U.K. from exiting the European Union if it chooses to go, a senior party ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
While the German government will work for European unity, there’s not a lot one member of the 28-country EU can do if another decides it’s had enough, said Volker Kauder, the caucus leader in parliament of Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc.
“I think we should do everything so that we stay together in Europe,” Kauder said in an interview in Berlin today. “But if a country really has no more interest in being part of the community, you can’t stop them.”
Kauder’s comments suggest that Germany is coming to terms with the prospect of life in the EU without the U.K., seven months after Prime Minister David Cameron said that he wants a referendum on British membership by the end of 2017.
Kauder, who criticized the U.K. government in late 2011 for refusing to accept a financial transaction tax, also said that British resistance was one factor preventing a transfer of more sovereignty to Brussels.
Kauder, 64, who represents the town of Rottweil in southwestern Germany, was himself the subject of opposition and international criticism in late 2011 when he said that “now, all of a sudden, Europe is speaking German.” Rather than speaking the language, Europe was sounding German in “its acceptance of the instruments for which Angela Merkel has fought so hard, and with success in the end,” he said.