UK ‘drifting from EU’ says senior commission figure

Vice president Viviane Reding says access to single market comes at expense of following EU rules

European Union commissioner Viviane Reding said the UK would be weaker outside the EU. AFP Photo / Georges Gobet

European Union commissioner Viviane Reding said the UK would be weaker outside the EU. AFP Photo / Georges Gobet

Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 20:47

The UK is “gradually, inexorably drifting away” from
the European Union as euro zone countries have integrated, the vice president of
the European Commission has warned.

In a speech in Cambridge last night, Viviane Reding, said the country is“preparing to loosen its ties to the rest of Europe in a number of policy areas. “Will it sever them in the coming years? I sincerely hope not,” she added.
She warned that, outside
the EU, the UK would lose influence.

Questioning the belief of some British eurosceptics, the Luxembourger, who serves as commissioner for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, said that access to the EU’s single market comes at the price of following its rules. “It’s difficult to see why the other member states would grant the UK unfettered access to their markets without requiring it to apply the EU’s rules,” she said.

Praising the British, Ms Reding said its people “love to scrutinise, to challenge the established and [to] hold the powerful to account. “For you it comes naturally not to accept, but to probe, not to shout, but to reason, not to walk away, but to engage . . .

“How astounding, then, that the most important questions we are faced
with in Europe are debated so very differently in this country,” she said.