• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
EU referendum
France tells UK 'the eurozone is more important than you'
Photo: AFP

France tells UK 'the eurozone is more important than you'

AFP/The Local · 21 Jan 2016, 15:21

Published: 21 Jan 2016 15:21 GMT+01:00

French President Francois Hollande said Thursday he would be "particularly vigilant" during talks with Britain while the PM Manuel Valls said the UK was unlikely to win over EU leaders in the next few weeks.

"The British government has made its demands... nothing is insurmountable so long as the founding principles of the union are preserved," Hollande told a gathering of French ambassadors.

"France wants Great Britain to stay in the European Union - that's in the interests of Europe and the United Kingdom," he said.

"But I will be particularly vigilant so that the eurozone can continue to deepen (its integration) - for me, that's the essential point."

British Prime Minister David Cameron hopes to strike a deal on renegotiating its ties with Brussels at an EU summit next month, before holding a referendum on his country's membership of the 28-nation bloc.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls also warned on Thursday that it would be a "very bad thing" if Britain left the EU, but warned that British demands cannot be met at any price.

A British EU exit "would undoubtedly be a bad thing, a very bad thing," Valls told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"There needs to be a deal, but not at any price."

"Anything that allows us to simplify the organization of Europe, yes. Anything that throws into doubt the foundations of the European project or the eurozone, no," said Valls.

Valls was speaking just hours before British Prime Minister David Cameron was set to lay out his vision of Britain's place in the world in a speech at the Swiss ski resort.

Cameron hopes to strike a deal on renegotiating Britain's ties with Brussels at an EU summit next month, before calling a referendum on the country's membership on the EU. He will campaign to stay in the union.

But French PM Valls said the British leader is unlikely to win over fellow EU leaders by the time of their February 18-19 summit in Brussels, at which France will be represented by President Francois Hollande.

An in-or-out referendum on British membership of the bloc will be held by the end of 2017, with commentators believing it could come this year if a deal is reached in February.

Britain needs the backing of France and Germany, the decisive powers in the EU, for any reform deal.

Story continues below…

British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond on Tuesday said his government is willing to consider alternatives to one of its key demands for a four-year ban on top-up benefits for low-paid EU migrants working in Britain.

Critics in Europe say the proposal is discriminatory and threatens freedom of movement in the EU.

If a deal was struck next month, the referendum could take place as early as June.

But Hammond indicated it may not come before September if the agreement is delayed until March, as this would make organising a referendum for any earlier "very tight".

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Who is to blame for the fuel crisis in France?
CGT union's workers block with burning tires the access to the refinery of Fos-sur-Mer, southeastern France. Photo: AFP

With petrol stations quickly running empty and the protests set to rumble on, who can be held responsible for the growing crisis?

Paris unveils first stretch of 'bicycle highway'
Photo: AFP

Could Paris be on the way to becoming the new Amsterdam for bikes?

French air traffic control unions call for June strikes
Photo: AFP

Air traffic controllers and thousands of other workers could be set for a three day strike at the beginning of June.

IMF urges France to deepen job reforms
Photo: AFP

The International Monetary Fund has warned France to go beyond its already hotly contested job market reforms.

Dordogne named among the 'best places in Europe'
Photo: Dale Musselman/Flickr

Travel company the Lonely Planet calls the Dordogne "France's foodiest region".

French fuel crisis: 'A quarter' of petrol stations run dry
Workers on strike block the access to the harbour of Saint-Nazaire, western France to protest against the government's planned labour law reforms. Photo: AFP

UPDATED: Over 3,200 petrol stations are now reportedly empty or running dry.

French police 'raid Google's Paris offices in tax probe'
Photo: AFP

Around 100 French officials and police have raided Google's offices in Paris, reports say.

EgyptAir Flight MS804
EgyptAir: Human remains 'suggest explosion on board'
Photo: Egyptian Armed Forces

New findings, if confirmed, would support the theory that a bomb may have brought down the plane.

How to avoid running out of fuel if you're coming to France
How to avoid the fuel crisis in France. Photo: AFP

There are far worse places to be stuck with no fuel than rural France, but here's some official advice on how holidaymakers can avoid becoming stranded.

Special ops units to police Tour de France for first time
Photo: AFP

France is taking security at the Tour de France extremely seriously this year.

National
Here are the parts of France hardest hit by the fuel shortages
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Travel
It will soon be time to say 'au revoir' to the Paris Metro ticket
Culture
Revealed: The ultimate sex map of France
National
Migrants at Calais camp given dignity in death
International
How good is security at Charles de Gaulle airport?
Culture
How to make a traditional French cassoulet
Culture
IN PICS: Commuter trains in Paris get royal makeover
International
Terror attack 'likeliest cause' of missing EgyptAir plane
International
Who was on board the missing EgyptAir flight from Paris?
Lifestyle
New map reveals Paris flat prices by Metro station
Culture
Paris: Here's how to find French cinema in English
Culture
How to say 'OUCH' in French (and ten other sounds)
National
Get ready: France to be hit by week of transport strikes
Culture
France readies for first national 'motorway party'
National
Is this the eco-solution to France's wild-peeing plague?
Sport
Paris mayor wants Seine to be 'swimmable' before Olympics
National
IN PICTURES: Police car torched in Paris protests
National
Why there's another rail strike in France and more to come
National
Why does 'everyone in France hate the police'?
Culture
Foolproof ways to make French friends in France
National
Seventeen French ex-ministers vow to shine light on sex harassment
Lifestyle
French Riviera mega-mansion faces being bulldozed
Culture
Eight ways the French are different to Parisians
2,738
jobs available