Britain should reform EU, not retreat: Rehn
European Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn on Thursday urged Britain to focus on reforming the European Union instead of pushing for weaker ties between its members.
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced in January that he would seek to repatriate many powers from the EU and then hold a referendum on Britain's membership of the group by the end of 2017.
But in a speech in London on the future of the eurozone and Britain's relationship with the EU, Rehn said it was "in everyone's interests for Britain to be an active player... no one has ever scored goals sitting on the bench".
"I believe it is firmly in Britain's interest to use its energy for reforming Europe rather than trying to undo our community which would leave us all weaker," Rehn said.
"In a nutshell, why not focus on reform, rather than repatriation?"
Rehn argued that the single market needs "rules, regulations and strong and effective institutions in order to function", adding: "Prime minister Margaret Thatcher understood this well".
He added: "Whatever choices Britain ultimately makes about its future in Europe I trust that this great European country will support the rebuilding of our economic and monetary union."
Rehn meanwhile urged Italy to continue with economic reforms despite an inconclusive general election this week that has left the eurozone nation with no workable majority in parliament.
"It is important that Italy continues to reform for the sake of sustainable growth," he said.
© 2013 AFP