The British people will vote in a referendum on 23 June 2016 on whether their country should or should not remain in the EU. Germany firmly supports the UK remaining an important partner within the EU. The European Council agreed on 18-19 February 2016 on a deal that should provide a basis for the UK’s future within the EU.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier views the UK as an important partner within the European Union. In his opinion, the Union is a team that is only strong as a whole. In his words, "All members play their part. Without the United Kingdom, we would be missing a strong player. The EU would be poorer, weaker and less open-minded." Steinmeier made this same point during his last visit to London where he met his British counterpart Philip Hammond: "I can’t even contemplate an EU without Britain!"
The UK proposed reforms, the EU drafted solutions
British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote to the President of the European Council in November 2015 putting forward proposals for reform of the EU in four areas, prior to holding a UK referendum. His EU counterparts are united as regards the basic aim of keeping the UK in the European Union. This was the background against which, during the European Council of 18 and 19 February, the UK’s 27 fellow EU member states agreed on joint solutions that address the concerns of the British Government whilst ensuring that Europe’s achievements are not up for debate.
The deal contains provisions on the relationship between euro and non-euro states, on improving competitiveness in the EU, on sovereignty and on social benefits for nationals of other EU states. The arrangements agreed on will come into effect if the British people vote to stay in the EU in the referendum on 23 June 2016.
The Heads of State and Government have agreed that key elements of the deal regarding economic and monetary union and sovereignty will later be incorporated into the EU treaties. As well as the deal, the Heads of State and Government also adopted a statement relating to the effective management of the banking union and the consequences of further integration of the euro area. Moreover, the European Council adopted a declaration on competitiveness, and the European Commission made four additional declarations. All these texts can be found on the European Council website:
UK membership of great value to us all
Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel considered the outcome reached at the end of the difficult negotiations a reasonable basis for the debate in the UK:
After negotiating long and hard – it’s fair to say it was a mammoth effort we all made – we succeeded in putting together a deal. We hope it will enable David Cameron to convince the people of the UK that EU membership is something of great value to us all, especially now the world we live in is pervaded by unrest and uncertainty.