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Britain urges German help for EU reforms

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Britain urges German help for EU reforms
Photo: DPA
12:04 CEST+02:00
Britain on Friday unveiled the first of the EU reforms it wants before holding a referendum on membership, calling for Germany to support a "red card" scheme so individual nations can block laws they dislike.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a speech to a foreign policy think-tank in Berlin that European powerhouse Germany should help Britain "lead the way" in reforming the 27-nation bloc.

"Trust in the institutions is at an all-time low. The EU is facing a crisis of legitimacy," Hague told the Koenigswinter Conference.

Hague called for an extension of the current "yellow card" system under which parliaments in member states can force the European Commission -- the executive arm of the European Union -- to reconsider a law.

"We should explore whether the yellow card provision could be strengthened or extended to give our parliaments the right to ask the commission to start again where legislation is too intrusive, and fails the proportionality test," he said.

"And we should think about going further still and consider a red card to give national parliaments the right to block legislation that need not be agreed at the European level."

Prime Minister David Cameron in January vowed to renegotiate Britain's relationship with the EU and then hold an in-out referendum on membership of the bloc before the end of 2017.

Many Britons see Brussels as meddling in the country's affairs, while the government has blamed the debt crisis in the eurozone for harming the economy in Britain, which does not use the single currency.

Cameron has cut an isolated figure in Europe of late, but Britain has increasingly tried to tap up Germany and other northern European nations as allies in its bid to enforce more austerity.

Hague said that Cameron would campaign for Britain to stay in a reformed EU "with all his heart and soul", adding that "now we want to get on with the business of delivering that reformed EU."

"And here, Britain and Germany must lead the way," he said.

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