EU Referendum

Germany warns Brexit could lead to EU 'disintegration'

Frank-Walter Steinmeier (left) and Jean-Marc Ayrault in Brandenburg, 15 June Image copyright EPA
Image caption Frank-Walter Steinmeier (left) and Jean-Marc Ayrault took a boat ride together on the River Havel when they met in Brandenburg

If the UK votes to leave the EU next week, the move could ultimately lead to the bloc's disintegration, Germany's foreign minister has warned.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier was speaking near Berlin after talks with his French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Mr Steinmeier warned against "a nationalism that pits one European state against another".

Leave campaigners in the UK have previously dismissed similar warnings as scaremongering.

The referendum on whether to leave or remain will be held on 23 June.

Germany is the UK's biggest trade partner in Europe.

"A vote to leave would shake the union," Mr Steinmeier said at a joint news conference in Brandenburg.

"It would not just carry on as 28 [members] minus one. It would require concerted efforts to ensure that the union holds together and that a decades-long, successful integration effort does not end in disintegration."

Mr Ayrault said the EU would keep evolving with the times.

"Europe can't be static, it must keep moving," he said. "Today it faces contradictions, slow-downs, difficulties, anxieties and fears. We want to give Europe a new dynamism."

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