Van Rompuy said that Britain would damage its standing in the world and miss out on lucrative trade deals if it turned its back on the EU and voted to leave the 28-nation bloc.
In a speech in London, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said large countries such as Britain, the world's sixth biggest economy, had the most to lose if they decided to go it alone in the world. "The United Kingdom's commercial outreach, its military and diplomatic clout are matched only by a few other countries", he said in a speech on Europe's global role at Regent's University. "By working jointly, it has the most to win. For a country like the UK to make its voice heard in the world, Europe does not work as a damper, but as a megaphone."
Van Rompuy is the second senior European official to caution Britain over its EU stance this month. Last Wednesday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso accused the Conservatives of copying UKIP and said they would suffer at the European Parliament elections in 2014.
British eurosceptics see the EU as an interfering, expensive and over-powerful bureaucracy that threatens their sovereignty. Some want a new relationship between London and the EU based on trade and others want to leave altogether.
In his speech, Van Rompuy said being an EU member was "not about giving up one's own role" but achieving more by "acting in the world as a team". "Even in the current economic climate ... Europe is still a commercial superpower", he said. "Pulling apart would weaken our hand and we know it."
Further reporting: Britain ‘driving force’ says EU’s Van Rompuy © 2013 Johnston Publishing Ltd. (Yorkshire Post)
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