UK independence ‘would be disaster for EU’

Party political proposals for Britain to pull out of Europe could spell disaster for the future of the union and would leave British farmers worse off, according to senior civil servant Georg Hausler.

Speaking at the Devon County Show this week, Mr Hausler, who heads up agriculture commissioner Dacien Ciolos’s cabinet, said if the UK voted to pull out of Europe in a proposed referendum it would be devastating for the EU.

“We follow this debate intensely in Brussels; it is not just the UK that is questioning if they are better in or out of the EU,” he said.

“Personally, I think it would be a disaster for the EU if the UK were to pull out. There is a spirit in this country that is extremely important to the EU – you are open, liberal and transatlantic – and extremely important to the EU decision-making process.”

Although many people might want the UK to have a stronger voice in Europe, there was also a need to balance the needs of 27 different member states, said Mr Hausler. “But the UK is a very influential member state – your representatives shape the thinking and the philosophy of the EU. If the UK withdrew, the EU would lose its balance – it would be a major disaster.”

The effect on British farmers could be similarly detrimental, he added. The shape of agricultural policy would depend on whether environmental schemes and support payments remained in place, for example. “And judging by the British governments I’ve worked with, I wouldn’t be too optimistic about getting too much support.”

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