• `We are willing to negotiate' with Cameron with `red lines'
  • Senior German lawmaker comments in Bloomberg interview

A British exit from the European Union would “bad for both sides,” though worse for the U.K., said Michael Fuchs, a senior lawmaker in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing party.

“I’m really fighting for having the U.K. in the EU,” Fuchs said in a Bloomberg Television interview Tuesday as Prime Minister David Cameron presented four main demands for changes in the EU’s workings. “The U.K. is one of our most important partners for a liberal market. I am quite sure we are willing to negotiate with David Cameron.”

“Of course we have certain red lines,” said Fuchs, a deputy head of Merkel’s Christian Democrat-led bloc in Germany’s lower house. “We are a humanitarian society in Europe and we have to make sure that we help people if it’s really necessary.”

Restricting welfare payments to people coming to the U.K. from other EU countries is one of Cameron’s demands as he seeks to renegotiate Britain’s membership terms before an in-or-out referendum he wants to hold by 2017. Officials are aiming for a deal that would allow a vote next year.

If the U.K. left the 28-nation EU, “this will be bad for both sides -- for the EU, but even more for the U.K.,” Fuchs said.

On the euro area, the Merkel ally said he’s “very much concerned” that Greece is “very reluctant to follow the rules, follow the agreements which we have made with them.” Fuchs said he’s optimistic on Portugal because “the situation there is much better” and the country’s economy is growing.

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