Germany, France Signal Joint EU Effort If U.K. Votes to Leave

  • Steinmeier, Ayrault show of unity ahead of Brexit referendum
  • EU would have a ‘shakeup’ should Britain leave the bloc

Germany’s top diplomat said his country and France would work together to buttress European Union stability if U.K. voters choose to leave the 28-member bloc.

“Everybody would have to ensure mutually that the European Union can hold together,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters alongside his French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault, on Wednesday west of Berlin. “However the U.K. decides, we will jointly take on the responsibility of ensuring that the European Union continues and can function.”

A British exit would be a “shakeup” for the EU, he said.

The two ministers offered a show of unity as polls show momentum building for the U.K.’s “leave” campaign, with Ayrault visiting Steinmeier’s constituency in Brandenburg an der Havel, an hour’s drive from the capital.

Ayrault said it was “too early” to speculate on the outcome of the June 23 referendum, adding that tension before the vote could trigger seesawing between the two camps. Still, he signaled EU action should the U.K. opt to part ways.

“Europe can’t be static; Europe must always be moving,” the French minister said. “Today, Europe has come to a halt, it has difficulties, fear -- and we have to take on our responsibilities.”

Steinmeier reiterated his warning that a so-called Brexit wouldn’t mean business as usual with respect to EU treaties.

“If the U.K. decides with a majority to leave the European Union, then it wouldn’t simply go on the next day as 28 minus one,” he said.

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