September 13, 2016 / 5:51 PM / 3 years ago

Germany's Steinmeier against new integration push by EU

Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier listens during a news conference in Riga, Latvia, September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Tuesday said the European Union lacked the cohesion to undertake major new integration steps after Britain’s vote to leave the bloc, but also warned against efforts to unwind the current EU structure.

Steinmeier, speaking after a meeting with his Danish counterpart, said moves to revamp the current EU treaties would result in lengthy and complex negotiations that would go nowhere.

“We do not have the necessary authority to take that next big integration step after the vote by Britain and given all we are hearing from other EU members,” Steinmeier said. “And trying to change the treaties would get us mired in lengthy negotiations, which in the end would leave us in the middle of nowhere.”

Instead, he said EU members should focus on those areas that were of greatest concern - migration, high youth unemployment and security - and where the EU had failed in the past to come to agreement.

Danish Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen said he agreed that this was not the time to deepen the integration of the EU given scepticism about the bloc expressed in referendums in Britain and Denmark over the past year.

“We don’t want to have an EU that takes a huge step forward in integration right now. Instead of having more integration, we want to have better integration,” he told reporters.

For example, he said, EU leaders had long talked about creating an energy union, but had not seen concrete steps in that direction.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Alison Williams

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