The Business Times

How the EU can woo Britain

Published Thu, Nov 26, 2015 · 09:50 PM
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ONE of the gripes Britons have about the European Union is that they think the big decisions are stitched up between the Germans and the French. Anti-Europeans are fanning this feeling in the run-up to the referendum on whether the United Kingdom should stay in the EU, saying that Britain has little influence on what happens in Brussels.

Given that Europe's leaders want Britain to stay in the EU, they should counter this narrative. Part of the response should be to agree to most of what UK Prime Minister David Cameron is demanding from his renegotiation of the country's relationship with the EU. The protections to stop Britain being marginalised if the eurozone countries merge into a tighter economic bloc are particularly important.

But the leaders can do more. Once the renegotiation is complete, European leaders could launch a charm offensive to persuade the British people that they are valued and influential. If Germany's Angela Merkel, France's Francois Hollande, Italy's Matteo Renzi and others were prepared to praise the Brits and admit some of their own mistakes - which, admittedly, won't be easy given the temptation to pander to their domestic electorates - they could say something like this.

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