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European Central Bank official: Britain leaving EU would be 'enormous shock'

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ATHENS, Greece - A top European Central Bank official says Britain leaving the European Union would be an "enormous shock" whose consequences would be difficult to manage.

Britain is home to the EU's biggest financial hub, the City of London, but it's not part of the bloc's joint euro currency. The country has become increasingly skeptical of the EU's project to integrate countries more closely. Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to hold an EU membership referendum in 2017 if he is re-elected next year.

ECB executive board member Benoit Coeure said at a conference in Athens on Wednesday that without Britain, promoting free trade and a free market would become "much more difficult."

He said: "The UK leaving would be an enormous shock and very difficult to manage."

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