Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen betrayed his taste for fast food in an appeal for the U.K. to remain part of the European Union, while Ireland’s leader said a British exit would be “catastrophic.”
“The EU without Britain is pretty much the same as fish without chips,” Katainen told reporters in Brussels today. “It’s not a meal anymore.”
He made the plea -- to British and European decision-makers alike -- two days before Prime Minister David Cameron lays out terms for a possible referendum that may lead to Britain’s exit from the EU.
Katainen said it is hard to think of powers and policies that Britain could pull back from EU authorities in Brussels, hinting at the difficulties of renegotiating the U.K.’s place in the 27-nation bloc.
Britain’s rebate from the EU budget appears secure, he said. While Finland backs a reshuffling of the budget that would make refunds unnecessary, such a revamp isn’t currently realistic, he said.
Prime Minister Enda Kenny of Ireland, which along with Britain joined the EU in 1973, echoed Katainen in signaling the chances of amending European treaties to address British demands are unrealistic.
“I cannot see renegotiations for any country in the time ahead,” Kenny told reporters in Strasbourg, France.
Saying he is “a close-working political friend” of Cameron, Kenny urged the British leader to focus on the commercial benefits offered by the EU, especially as it seeks more free-trade agreements with nations outside Europe including the U.S., Canada and Japan. He also sounded alarm at the idea of a U.K. exit.
“It would simply be catastrophic for Europe if Britain were to leave,” Kenny said.
To contact the reporters on this story: James G. Neuger in Brussels at firstname.lastname@example.org; Jonathan Stearns in Strasbourg, France at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at firstname.lastname@example.org