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Macron Says Britain Could Have a Place in 'Reformed' EU

Choosing his words with care, Macron said he had deliberately avoided talking about Brexit because he could "not imagine" that Britain would not want to be part of a new-look EU.

AFP

Updated:September 26, 2017, 10:57 PM IST
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Macron Says Britain Could Have a Place in 'Reformed' EU
File image of French President Emmanuel Macron. (Image: Reuters)
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Paris: French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday that Britain, which is engaged in the fourth round of divorce talks with the European Union, could still have a place in a rebooted EU.

Setting out his vision for a more efficient, multi-speed EU in a key speech in Paris, Macron said: "In a union refocused on its unwavering values and an efficient market, in a few years, if it wants, the United Kingdom could find its place."

Choosing his words with care, Macron said he had deliberately avoided talking about Brexit because he could "not imagine" that Britain would not want to be part of a new-look EU.

"In this reformed and simplified EU that I'm proposing, I cannot imagine that the United Kingdom could not find its place," he said, without making it clear whether he was suggesting Britain could reverse its decision -- or rejoin the union at a later stage.

At his first meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May after his election in May, Macron had already suggested that Britain could row back on its referendum decision to quit the 28-member bloc.

"Of course, the door is always open as long as the negotiations on Brexit have not finished," he said, in remarks that were seen as encouraging by those Britons who voted to stay in the EU.

But Macron also stressed at the time that the British people had taken a sovereign decision to leave and that once the negotiations started, "it will be more and more difficult to go backward."

On Tuesday, he reiterated his call for a multi-speed Europe, where groups of willing countries would move ahead on integration projects, leaving refuseniks behind.

"Europe is already multi-speed. We shouldn't be afraid to say this and to want it," he said.

He also spoke in favour of further enlargement to the east, saying Balkan states should be brought into the fold "so they don't turn their backs on Europe."
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