Germany backs UK over calls for 'fairness' in EU reforms

Angela Merkel and David Cameron Mrs Merkel has said reforming the European Union will not be a "piece of cake"

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David Cameron's hopes of renegotiating the UK's place in the European Union have been boosted after Germany said any future changes must be fair to nations not using the single currency.

Its finance minister Wolfgang Schauble said countries outside the eurozone should not be put at a "systematic disadvantage" by future integration.

Writing in the Financial Times, he said legal protections must be put in place.

No 10 said it amounted to the German government publicly backing its case.

Mr Cameron has said that if the Conservatives win the 2015 election, he will seek to renegotiate the terms of the UK's membership of the European Union and put the outcome to an in-out referendum of the British people in 2017.

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Britain has lavished huge diplomatic attention on Germany and it's clearly paying off”

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The prime minister says moves towards deeper economic and political integration within the eurozone are a trigger for the UK to secure a "better deal" in Europe and redraft the terms of its membership.

He has suggested that existing EU treaties will need to be rewritten - although France has signalled that it does not believe this is a priority at the moment.

The UK has long maintained that safeguarding national interests, such as fair access to the European single market and protecting the City of London, will be vital in any future process.

In the joint FT article, Chancellor George Osborne and his German counterpart said any changes to EU treaties must "guarantee fairness" to all member states.

Wolfgang Schauble German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble wrote the article with Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne

"As the euro area continues to integrate, it is important that countries outside the euro area are not at a systematic disadvantage in the EU," the two said.

The pair added: "So future EU reform and treaty change must include reform of the governance framework to put euro area integration on a sound legal basis, and guarantee fairness for those EU countries inside the single market but outside the single currency."

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What we see is Germany accepting that there needs to be these proper safeguards put in place as further changes are made for the eurozone”

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It is the first time Germany has publicly indicated that countries such as the UK must not be put at a disadvantage by eurozone nations' moves to integrate more closely.

Downing Street said Mr Schauble's comments amounted to the German government stating publicly for the first time that safeguards for non-eurozone states should not simply be negotiated on a case-by-case basis as the single currency area takes further steps towards integration, but should be underpinned formally in the EU treaties.

A No 10 spokesman said it was vital that there was a "level-playing field" between countries inside and outside the euro.

"What we see is Germany, one of the leading players in the eurozone, accepting that there needs to be these proper safeguards put in place as further changes are made for the eurozone."

"This is a German finance minister coming out and saying there will be treaty change and it must include reform of the framework to ensure the right safeguards between euro-ins and euro-outs."

The BBC's Ben Wright said the prime minister and Conservative backbenchers would be delighted that the Germans were "clearly receptive" to their concerns.

The Euro logo in front of the European Central bank The joint article calls for the European Union to "guarantee fairness"

The timing of the comments would also be welcome in No 10, he added, coming as the debates between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage have put the issue of what can be achieved in Europe top of the political agenda.

But this would not be enough on its own, he added, to satisfy Conservative MPs who have been promised a return of powers from Brussels to London.

Mr Cameron has been seeking to get Germany's backing for its reform agenda in Europe but on a visit to the UK earlier this month, Chancellor Angela Merkel bwarned it would not be "a piece of cake".

Reacting to Friday's development, Conservative MP Mark Reckless said the dialogue between Berlin and London was "excellent" but the UK had to decide what kind of relationship it wanted with the eurozone.

"Although the Germans are not going to remake the EU to suit the UK, and the prospect of treaty change does seem to be receding, Germany sells more to the UK than any other country in the world and it is clear they will be keen to maintain free trade and friendly relations were we to vote for a future outside the EU," he told Radio 4's World at One.

But Conservative MP Douglas Carswell struck a cautious tone about what was being promised.

"Hurray! British and German governments promising us EU reform and "subsidiarity" in the FT. Just like the 1990s all over again," he tweeted.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    This HYS will be full of right wing vitriol all day, blaming all and sundry for their unemployed status but especially the EU. Uneducated and angry.

  • Comment number 98.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    Nothing but a charm offensive from the big vested interests, trying everything they can to preserve their giant EU gravy train..

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    The argument that Britian would be doomed if it wasn't an EU member is wrong.
    Norway & Switzerland aren't-Norway still sells oil to the EU and the Swiss still take bank deposits.
    The EU knows that without London it can't pay its bills.
    It is also fundamentally flawed in that it applies the same fiscal instruments to Greeks and Germans and pretends we are all the same culturally. We're not.

  • Comment number 95.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    Osbourne signing up to fairness!!! That must be this weeks best oxymoron yet!

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    European policy.....keep saying "nice doggy" till you find a big enough stone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    2 Minutes ago
    @35.JohnS, Except that the UK tax payers dont actually pay of the royal family

    well, actually we do indirectly because all that land that they, other 'nobles' and the CoE obtained by force in the past belongs to us and we are not earning income from it while they are...

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    The EU is a knife dangling above our heads...I'm not calling for us to leave I just want Britain to allow itself to make the decisions that affect us and have them do away with the right to a life ruling and the rest of the red tape that is holding this country down and the European court should listen to what we need as a nation and not as a super state.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    It's quite clear from all the evidence, that the BBC are in the pockets of the Conservative and Lib Dem Coalition government, everything is deliberately and purposefully one sided and undemocratic.

    We need out of the EU, and your criminal friends out as well...understand

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    This is a key admission. Renegotiation of EU membership terms is NOT just about the UK. It is about all EU members who are not in the Eurozone. These are the ones committed to "ever closer union". The UK has never signed up to that goal and, in my view, it never will. The UK electorate is never going to give up its right and ability to boot out its own government when it chooses to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.


    Sadly I agree.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    // Lindy
    I shall be voting for theonly one I trust, which is the Green Party. At least they won't destroy the Green Belt and will help our beautiful, irreplaceable planet.//

    Actually, they will. They are as insanely pro-immigration as the LibLaBBCon parties

    Immigration leads to the urban sprawl which destroys our environment and green belt, and the Greens support it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    Reading between the lines it sounds like the Eurozone has decided that the only way to stabalise the Euro is further integration ie Federalism. What Merkel is saying is esentially "We're going to form the United States of Europe, but don't worry, it won't affect you."

    The decicion won't be 'EU, in or out?' It will be 'do we join the new superstate, or do we trade with it and go our own way.'

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    29 - Looternite Margaret Thatcher was no fan of referenda but the "once and for all" phrase was spoken by her in the House of Commons because she was reading a quotation from a letter written by Roy Jenkins to the Times. What she did say was that once we have a first referendum things will be different and will never be the same again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    I've finally fallen in - There will be NO REFERENDUM.
    It's due after the next general election - see!
    Labour wins - no referendum.
    Labour/lib coalition wins - there will be no referendum.
    Conservative/lib coalition wins - there will be no referendum.
    Conservatives win - no referendum, as no UKIP threat to them anymore.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    As long as Mrs Merkel understands that Scotland will be speaking for itself soon as an Independent country and as long as the rest understand Westminster will not speak for Scotland any more!

    Please the rest of the EU, drum this into the Spanish members heads!

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    Seen this

    if we stopped putting money into the EU we could help more people like this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    Every country in the Union should get out of it and the EU should be buried for good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    The fact that this Anglo/German pact is even being talked about and praised shows that the Condem/UK Establishment are lying when they say that are keeping us out of the Euro because we are better off.

    There would be no need for a pact if we were in fact better off outside the Euro (&EU!), would there?

    Why do the UK establishment/press want so much to harm the country by staying out of the Euro?


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