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EU offers olive branch to UK

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - 02:05

Britain has secured a top economic job in the European Commission. As Ivor Bennett reports it's seen as a gesture of unity at a time when the European Union is facing many challenges.

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These are uncertain times in Brussels, and Jean-Claude Juncker knows it. Naming his new team, the European Commission's incoming president offered an unexpected olive branch. The UK's representative, Jonathan Hill, the surprise appointment as the EU's first dedicated commissioner for Financial Services. SOUNDBITE) (French) INCOMING EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER SAYING: "Perhaps our British friends will better understand the Commission's policies if it is explained in the most elegant version, in the language of Shakespeare." It was a role London had lobbied hard for but few expected it to get. The city is the bloc's biggest financial centre. Britain wants to keep as much control as it can, as banking supervision shifts increasingly towards Brussels. Threatening an exit, the UK has been one of Juncker's most vocal critics. His tone though is one of unity. (SOUNDBITE) (French) INCOMING EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER SAYING: "I want to contribute to bringing Europeans and the European Union closer together. I want Europeans to be proud again of the European Union." Like Europe, Britain too is trying to keep a union in tact. With just over a week to go before the Scottish referendum, the campaign for independence is gathering pace. Should it happen, analysts say a so-called 'Brexit' from Europe is increasingly likely. ING's Valentijn van Nieuwenhuijzen. SOUNDBITE (English) VALENTIJN VAN NIEUWENHUIJZEN, HEAD OF STRATEGY AND CHIEF ECONOMIST, ING IM, SAYING: "The question then also becomes does it generate contagion into some of the regions within the euro zone that also have a certain urge to become more independent. So there are all sorts of contagion scenarios possible from the UK, to other parts of Europe, and we'll have to wait and see how that develops. It's certainly not helping risk appetite and stability in markets." David Cameron has promised a referendum on EU membership in 2017. That's if he wins the next general election. Given the latest developments in Scotland, it seems that's a big 'if'. Bookmakers Ladbrokes halving odds on the Prime Minister losing his job post-referendum to 8/1.

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EU offers olive branch to UK

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - 02:05