World Economy

UK Exit Will Jolt EU

UK Exit Will Jolt EUUK Exit Will Jolt EU

Britain could severely jolt the European Union if it were to leave after a popular vote, the 28-nation bloc’s trade chief said.

“If they choose to leave it would have tremendous effects,” EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said in an interview. “But we’re not there yet,” Bloomberg reported.

So far, Thursday’s UK election and its potential to trigger a popular vote on EU membership hasn’t affected subjects such as a proposed trade deal with the US, Malmstroem said Tuesday in Washington, where she met with US Trade Representative Michael Froman, to discuss the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

“There’s a lot at stake, first of all for the British people, and then whether or not they will have a referendum or not,” Malmstroem said, referring to the vote this week.

“It would be very sad if the UK chose to leave the European Union,” she said. “I hope they choose to stay. We need them and they need us.”

UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s promise to put EU membership to a vote has strained relations with Germany, prompting allies of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to pin their hopes on a win for the opposition to kill the specter of a referendum.

Malmstroem said the EU plans to keep all of its members, including Britain and Greece. Asked about the commission’s last-ditch efforts to strike a deal between Athens and its creditors, Malmstroem said there are no plans to stop looking for a solution.