Europe without the UK would be able to carry on but not without France, Van Rompuy said during a lecture in Paris this week.
“Without the United Kingdom, Europe would be wounded, even amputated – therefore everything should be done to avoid it.
“But it will survive. Without France, Europe – the European idea – would be dead”.
British Prime Minister David Cameron is promising to renegotiate Britain’s terms with the EU and in particular he wants powers to limit the freedom of movement of EU nationals among member states. Van Rompuy suggested member states are open to change but to a fundamental principle of the EU.
Cameron has also promised an in/out referendum in 2017 if his Conservative Party win next year’s general election.
Van Rompuy is the latest European leader to appeal to Britain to stay in the EU.
Last week French Finance Minister Michel Sapin told The Local that both Britain and Europe would be weaker if the UK left the EU.
“If the UK forfeits its place in the EU, then Europe would be weakened and the UK would also be worse off. It has to stay in.
“But the British will be British, just like the French will be French”.
Sapin’s warning for Cameron came in the same week that France's economy minister Emmanuel Macron also told Britain that “its fate lies within the EU”.