Merkel Slams Backers of U.K. Exit From EU as Gravely Negligent

German Chancellor Angela Merkel blasted those who would welcome the U.K.’s departure from the European Union, even as she said the island nation isn’t always a “comfortable partner” in the 28-member bloc.

Taking up the latest spat among EU states, Merkel reasserted her support for Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker as the next European Commission president in the face of “reservations” in Prime Minister David Cameron’s government.

Still, she castigated Juncker allies for taking the U.K.’s opposition -- and the U.K.’s EU membership -- for granted.

“I think it’s gravely negligent, and actually unacceptable, how easily some say how indifferent they are about whether Britain agrees or not -- and what’s more, whether Britain remains in the European Union or not,” Merkel said today in the lower house of parliament, or Bundestag, in Berlin. “There’s nothing unimportant or nonchalant about it,” she said.

Wading into a debate that’s thrown into relief Britain’s skeptical stance within the EU, Merkel said she didn’t share Cameron’s opposition to Juncker, whose detractors say promotes a more centrally steered EU amid a surge of anti-EU sentiment.

Cameron warned Merkel on the fringes of a summit last week that insisting on Juncker might put the U.K. on a path toward leaving the EU, Der Spiegel magazine reported. Germany’s goal is to keep the U.K. in, Merkel’s spokesman said this week.

“Britain is indeed not a comfortable partner,” Merkel said in the Bundestag. “Britain has profited much and received a lot from Europe. On the other hand, Britain has also given a lot to Europe.”

Merkel said that despite the differences between the U.K. and its continental neighbors, Germany and Britain shared similar interests on economic policy.

“We both pursue significant goals, above all a strong and competitive European Union that bundles its strength,” Merkel said.

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