German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the European Union may have to consider treaty changes if that is what it takes to keep Britain in the EU.
She is confident that conditions can be created for Britain to stay, and she is “not losing sleep” over it, Merkel told the BBC in an interview.
British Prime Minister David Cameron aims to renegotiate the country’s terms of membership in the EU before a referendum in 2017 on whether Britain should stay in the community.
“I’m optimistic that if we all want it, we’ll find a good solution,” Merkel said.
“It’s not about losing sleep over this, but about doing our work and creating the necessary preconditions for Britain to remain in the EU.”
Treaty change is a thorny issue for the EU, as France and some other members are known to be very wary of it.
Negotiations over the Lisbon Treaty dragged on for eight years before it was signed in 2009 and involved two Irish referendums.
Merkel said: “The EU is a union of 28 member states that have to find compromises. Only when everyone is agreed and happy can we get proper results. That will is there. We have already found many, many solutions for many, many difficult questions — it should be like that in this case too.”
There is speculation that the EU could come up with a special treaty protocol for Britain to accommodate the country’s particular concerns.
A similar procedure made Danish and Irish opt-outs legally binding in the past.
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