Angela Merkel: EU reform not 'piece of cake'

 

The German chancellor tells British MPs there were "very special expectations of my speech here today"

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she can work with the UK to reform the European Union but it will not be "a piece of cake".

Following a Downing Street meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron, she said both countries could bring in laws to restrict benefit tourism, as part of "overall European cooperation".

Mr Cameron said changes to the EU were "possible, achievable and doable".

Mrs Merkel addressed Parliament earlier - and later had tea with the Queen.

She also had a meeting with Mr Cameron in Downing Street, with a picture being released of the two of them chatting on the sofa in the Camerons' flat.

Angela Merkel and David Cameron

Mr Cameron is keen to negotiate changes to the UK's treaties with the EU ahead of a promised referendum on whether the country should remain in the organisation, which he wants to hold before the end of 2017.

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She may well agree to concessions to Britain - but not immediately”

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He regards Mrs Merkel as a key figure in achieving his aim and has organised several events to welcome the German leader during her one-day visit to London, including tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

At the Downing Street press conference, Mr Cameron said he and Mrs Merkel "both want to see changes in Europe".

He added that EU rules on freedom of movement needed to change to ensure people could not move from country to country to sign up for welfare payments.

Angela Merkel in the royal gallery Angela Merkel addressed both Houses of Parliament during her one-day visit

Mrs Merkel said the UK and Germany could pass laws to limit this problem, saying: "Where there's a will, there's a way."

She said freedom of movement was intended to allow people to work in different countries, not "having immigration into social systems".

However, speaking of changing the EU, she said: "It is not a piece of cake. It is going to be hard work."

Earlier, Mrs Merkel addressed both Houses of Parliament.

General Charles de Gaulle and his wife Yvonne

Leaders previously accorded the honour include French Presidents Charles de Gaulle, pictured above, Valery Giscard d'Estaing and Francois Mitterrand, US presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the Dalai Lama, Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi and former Russian president Boris Yeltsin - click here for a full list.

Mrs Merkel told assembled political and business leaders: "Some expect my speech to pave the way for a fundamental reform of the European architecture which will satisfy all kinds of alleged or actual British wishes. I am afraid they are in for a disappointment.

"Others are expecting the exact opposite and they are hoping that I will deliver the clear and simple message here in London that the rest of Europe is not prepared to pay almost any price to keep Britain in the European Union. I am afraid these hopes will be dashed."'

Mrs Merkel hailed the peace and stability she said the European Union had brought, saying war between EU member states was now "inconceivable".

David Cameron with Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg Mrs Merkel's speech was well received by the UK parliamentarians

She praised the "unparalleled success" of the EU free market - and the freedoms she said European integration had delivered - but stressed that "we need to change the political shape of the EU in keeping with the times".

She told the UK's gathered political leaders the SU had to become stronger, saying: "In order to attain this goal we need a strong United Kingdom with a strong voice inside the European Union.

"If we have that, we will be able to make the necessary changes for the benefit of all."

The Guardian reported on Wednesday that Berlin was prepared to offer "limited opt-outs" to the UK over its future compliance with existing EU directives and to make sure some other regulations were more flexibly enforced.

The Queen, right, welcomes Angela Merkel to Buckingham Palace The Queen met Angela Merkel at Buckingham Palace after leaving Downing Street

The newspaper said it was a sign of the lengths that Germany was willing to go to to ensure the UK remained a member of the EU amid fears in Europe that a referendum could lead to British withdrawal.

But BBC Berlin Correspondent Stephen Evans said sources close to Mrs Merkel were playing down expectations of new proposals for the kind of changes British Conservatives wanted to see.

Although not an official state visit - Mrs Merkel is not head of state - the trip has been planned for months, with both governments aware of its political significance at a time of looming change in Europe.

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.

But he faces a battle to convince leaders of other EU member states to agree to the treaty changes he will need, with French President Francois Hollande recently telling the prime minister, on a one-day visit to the UK, that it was "not a priority".

The leader of Mr Cameron's junior coalition partners, the Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, and opposition leader Ed Miliband, who both oppose calls for a referendum and who have warned that Conservative calls for a root-and-branch renegotiation will alienate EU leaders, also held separate meetings with Mrs Merkel.

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1151.

    1131. Strange choice of words 'Stability over Conflict' Merkel is an intelligent, very clever politician and one of the reasons she is so popular in her own Country is the excellent PR job she has done in her lifetime to paper over the horrific cracks of Germany's legacy. 1135. Most of our woes are caused by dancing round EU ill thought out regulation instead of governing. 1145. Stats please.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1150.

    Europe is beyond change, but its still fascinating to read Hollande and Merkel talk about it being 'all too difficult' and 'requires unanimity' and 'not on the agenda'. If Britain did that whilst 25% of people in its regions were unemployed, 4 million homeless (

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1149.

    @1135.RICH588

    ''...When will people realise the human rights has nothing to do with the EU..and the immigration is nothing to with EU policy...''

    To remain an EU member you must sign up to the ECHR, the recent increase in net immigration is mainly due to an increase in migration from EU which has to be as a direct consequence of the EUs free migration policy.

    ...so wrong on both counts.

  • Comment number 1148.

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

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1147.

    Cameron was like an immature schoolboy next to his head of school Merkel at the dinning table; Cameron was an embarrassment today, how could the British people select him to run the country?

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 1146.

    Ich bien ein londoner .....come on now ...England och Germany have secretly been in love since 1870 .....let's go all the way !

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1145.

    People act as if it is Europe who need us. It is we who need Europe. Our economy would lose billions if we left Europe. Even if it wasn't economically beneficial I would still wish to stay within Europe. We are stronger and more secure within Europe. If you want Europe to be more democratic take power away from the Commission and give it to the European Parliament, which we elect - democratically.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1144.

    1136.Philip

    We are often hated, condemned for our habit of poking our noses into the affairs of others, yet you want us to involve ourselves again, into the affairs of another. The Ukraine has to find it's own path and any blood spilt, cannot be due to our need to control their destiny.

    We don't seem to be doing very well guiding our own at the moment either.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1143.

    @1138.
    We wouldn't necessary need one team at the Olympics (although we'd win every time if we did!). Hong Kong is part of China but has its own team, and the UK has separate teams in most sporting tournaments for each of its constituent countries. A USE could do the same.

    You're right about the UN, but one big voice at the UN would be much better than having 28 insignificant voices as we do now.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1142.

    Question to those who are so anti immigration.

    How will the UK support its ageing population? We need to stop the decrease in ratio of those of working age to those who are retired otherwise who is going to pay for the pensions and care the older population require

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1141.

    1133.
    correct kane
    3 Minutes ago

    1130.Martin
    "Cameron has been Merkeled. Simple as that."
    Yes, you certainly are Sir.
    =====
    Tough guy behind a keyboard.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1140.

    1120.margaret howard

    I can't help noticing that your posts present interesting, relevant, sensible facts and figures which you use to refute the knee-jerk, instinctive prejudices of the uninformed. I also notice your posts are usually marked down. I think perhaps you may be misjudging the typical HYS audience. But please keep up the good work, and thanks for trying.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1139.

    1117.DGARM

    No it is you, DGARM, who is attempting to spin the truth.

    When Magna Carta was drawn up, everyone knew what they were getting. The Laws defined in Magna Carta were implemented.

    What 1103 ChrisMM was illustrating was that the vote in 1973 was about joining the EEC, not the EU.

    Why are you so keen to deny UK voters the right to vote on a Modern Day Magna Carta? Explain please!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1138.

    govtlies: I fail to see why we cannot have a similar but different set up in Europe

    Because in order to be the United States of Europe,
    you would all have to give up being countries

    You would all represent the country of Europe at Olympics, would be allowed only one seat at UN council, ect

    You can't have your cake and eat it too

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1137.

    How sweet, two world wars and were still hanging on the word of a German.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1136.

    Cameron was an embarrassment today. Spent all his time banging on about re-negotiation. Where was The EU flag at the press conference?
    Meanwhile as France, Germany and Poland try and help Ukraine, Britain sits on its hands on the sidelines. Shameful.
    Mrs Merkel must have thought how Britain has sadly diminished in world influence.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1135.

    When will people realise the human rights has nothing to do with the EU No 132 and the immigration is nothing to with EU policy it is our governments failure to deal with the black economy we should put the blame with the proper people our benefit system is not the best in the EU
    maybe our NHS gives Britain a slight edge but we should not blame the EU for all our woes

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1134.

    I sense that some here feel that UKIP in power would invoke a magical time machine, transporting our happy land back to the world of Churchill, Spitfires, and empire. Blaming our European friends for British problems will only result in the erosion of the rights for everyone in this country, and put this country at a serious economic disadvantage. Xenophobic politics is dangerous and manipulative

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1133.

    1130.Martin
    "Cameron has been Merkeled. Simple as that."
    Yes, you certainly are Sir.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1132.

    Immigration is one thing, but benefits is a UK thing. We don't need EU approval to implement a law prohibiting benefits for immigrants from other EU nations so why does the media and UK political parties always pretend this is the case?

 

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