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German business groups tell EU leaders to get a deal with Britain

[BERLIN] Two of Germany's most prominent business groups urged EU leaders to secure a reform deal this week aimed at keeping Britain in the 28-member bloc, saying a British exit would damage their shared market and lead to a dead end.

Prime Minister David Cameron hopes to reach a deal at a summit later this week to reform the European Union so that he can put the plan to voters in a referendum, widely expected this summer.

The German BDI industry association and BDA employers' body, whose views carry some weight in Europe's biggest economy, said some of Britain's demands, such as boosting competitiveness, were "very sensible".

Germany backs some of Britain's demands, for example on greater transparency and cutting back on bureaucracy. But other difficult issues, notably migration, still need to be settled at the summit.

Recent opinion polls in Britain have shown a narrow but growing lead for campaigners who want to leave the EU.

"A Brexit will lead us into a dead end," said BDI President Ulrich Grillo in a statement. "An exit would be not only a shock for the common internal market, but above all a strong signal against Europe. From the view of the German economy, there is only one message to Britain: stay in - it is in your own interests." German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday she was becoming more confident a deal will be reached.

The two groups also said this week's summit must make substantial progress on migration policy.

"European solidarity is needed to get the influx (of migrants) under control and reduce it," said BDA President Ingo Kramer. He said the EU must offer more help to countries neighbouring crisis regions and better control Europe's external borders.

Merkel is looking increasingly isolated with her liberal refugee policy, including her demands that migrants are distributed across Europe and that Turkey cooperates in stemming the flow of migrants to Europe.


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