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.

Start Quote

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

End Quote

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
    +2

    Comment number 251.

    # 246 CTDavies

    no we haven't we have got a government no one elected at least the Germans elected their leader

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 250.

    I just want a vote on whether or not we stay in the EU.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 249.

    89. scobie

    You also forgot to mention that Germany has carried the bulk of the burden of the Greek Bail out, yet more proof that whole hearted and committed membership of the EU works (and not destroying industry in favour of the financial sector)

    @ 132. nicknack1
    The number Romanians/Bulgarians arriving here has been FAR below expected and infinitely lower than the UKIP scare stories

  • Comment number 248.

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

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 247.

    236. What are you talking about? France embodies the very essences of European values and cultures! Let's work together! Vive la France !

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 246.

    Win 2 world wars and set Europe free, then be told 70 years later what you can and cannot have. I think it's the other way around Chancellor Merkel. We are going to tell you what we are having, and if you don't like it we will hold a referendum. I know democracy is unknown to the European Union but here we have a long tradition of it...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 245.

    234.Avis
    In your wildesst dreams, can you ever see US, Russia, China participating in a World government?

    I used to think World government would be a good idea when I was 18 and foolish!

  • rate this
    +17

    Comment number 244.

    Mrs Merkel is a conviction politician who has presided over the reunification of her country and delivered economic growth which brings benefits for all citizens. David Cameron is presiding over the break up of the UK and speaks only for vested interests in the city who care little about ordinary citizens. He could learn a lot from Mrs Merkel, not least how to make a success of EU membership.

  • rate this
    +16

    Comment number 243.

    The greatest testimony to German economic and social success is the relatively even distribution of it's wealth and prosperity ...across it's classes and geographically in it's lander. None of the regional disparities we witness excessively here in the UK, where Westminster governments have virtually abandoned the North of England, Wales and Scotland for prosperity in the South East / London.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 242.

    I just don't understand why countries cannot just trade with each other why O WHY do we need all the interference in sovereign affairs. People against Europe are not against the principle of Trading with other nations . . . great bring it on, what I and I guess others are against is the EU ruling us and overruling our own courts etc. The EU is fast becoming an insidious organisation/ dictatorship

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 241.

    UK parliaments typically pass 50 Acts a year, and each may consist of tens or even hundreds of provisions, or laws. Then we have the vast body of common law: judges' rulings.

    There may well be some thousands of EU laws, but the proportion is really quite small compared to the above.

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga

    Law is a very big, complex subject, in all modern lands.

  • rate this
    +88

    Comment number 240.

    @213 I've lived and worked in both countries and it's like comparing apples and pears. Germans save up for pretty much everything including houses, so the economy is a different beast. They have their problems, domestic consumption of product is usually pretty weak, so they are very reliant on exports. Merkel has a growing anti-EU problem at home so this speech is probably for German ears also.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 239.

    The German people were seduced by the Nazis because they felt they were being punished, mocked and dictated to by a set of rules imposed by foreign powers, The Treaty of Versailles. Sound familiar UKIP voters? be careful what you wish for.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 238.

    What's difficult, Governments can make the people give up there freedoms by bullying when really they can not. Or is it that they will be found out and prosecuted for there fiddling and how many times they have conned the people, the real sovereigns of this world.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 237.

    60.bobajob

    no she will not be adressing Nigel. He is not an MP, thank god!!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 236.

    The UK should work closer with Germany (instead of the unreasonable French) to reform Europe.

    Our languages and way of thinking are more similar than those of the French.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 235.

    Can we have greater democracy and less diktat.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 234.

    It must be rather distressing to be a nationalist in the 21st century - seeing the world pulling ever closer into an inevitable supranational world government. This is the only logical and viable expedient to a sustainable world peace, economy and political system.

    Forget the EU, we should be vesting more legislative and executive powers to the UN.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 233.

    We are indebted to the European Community and our membership.
    The UK has moved from being a sad monarchy towards a growing democracy.
    When the referendum decision forces the UK to leave EC, then the people of Scotland will delight in being independent and continuing to be EC participants.
    Our PM, Dave, will be immortalised as the bloke who plunged the UK into separatist/nationalistic oblivion...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 232.

    Standard Life have said that they will quit Scotland after 200 years if it becomes independent and does not have currency union with the rest of the UK.
    So to all UKIP supporters: How many non UK companies, based in the UK will quit the UK if you get your way and take us out of Europe? Toyota? Honda? etc?

 

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  49.  
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  50.  
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  52.  
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  53.  
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  54.  
    11:27: Quote: Cameron on hoax call

    "I had Florence on my back - to add to the exercise regime... My Blackberry went in my pocket - I answered it and it claimed to be a conference call established, which I do obviously very frequently with the head of GCHQ and some of the staff in my office. A voice came through which I didn't recognise, the voice said that he was sorry to wake me up which I thought was strange as it was eleven o'clock in the morning, and so I quite rapidly asked "Who is this?" and the answer came "It is a hoax call" and so I pushed the red button on my Blackberry which ended the call.

    "No harm was done, no national security was breached but it is important when these thing happen to that we do everything we can to put in place systems to weed out hoax calls but every now and again I suspect these things will happen"

     
  55.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk Get involved

    Louis Lavery emails: Does the "greater security for everyone and every family" include our phone calls, Dave?

     
  56.  
    11:25: Key dates ahead Jo Coburn BBC political correspondent

    The 2015 general election is 101 days away and the parties are ramping up their campaigns for votes. The BBC's Jo Coburn goes through some key dates ahead of the UK choosing a new government.

     
  57.  
    11:21: Labour letter

    Political news site Labour List reports: "A group of 16 Labour MPs have issued a public statement, expressing concern about elements of Labour's policy agenda and urging a change of course in three key areas.

    "The letter - signed by MPs on the left of the Parliamentary Labour Party - calls for an alternative to Labour's current deficit reduction plans, public ownership of the railways and a return to collective bargaining and employment rights in the workplace."

     
  58.  
    11:14: Election debates BBC Radio 5 live

    Broadcasters have proposed TV debates with seven parties taking part. The BBC's John Pienaar imagines what they will sound like… with the help of some creative editing.

     
  59.  
    11:13: Election debates

    "We are making good progress" on the format of the TV election debates, the David Cameron says. "I'm delighted the broadcasters have gone away and thought again.

    "They've actually come up with rather more minor parties than I had in mind. But anyway I'm sure they've thought it all through and they know what they're doing - although I don't quite see why Northern Ireland seems to be missing out because as far as I'm concerned it is an as important part of our United Kingdom as Wales or Scotland.

    "I want to take part."

     
  60.  
    @tessamunt Tessa Munt, Liberal Democrat MP

    tweets: Income tax cuts wouldn't be happening without @libdems in govt. Cameron said they were unaffordable & here's proof - http://bit.ly/15zfwda

     
  61.  
    11:04: Breaking News

    David Cameron has revealed the hoax call came through as he went for a walk with his family after a day trip to Saudi Arabia. He said his mobile rang with the display saying it was a conference call. The person apologised for waking him up. "I thought that was strange as it was eleven o'clock in the morning," said the PM, adding that he did not recognise the voice. He asked who it was and the answer was that it was a hoax call. Mr Cameron said there "no harm done... no national security breached".

     
  62.  
    10:58: Cameron speech

    We must continue to cut the deficit, the PM says. It is not easy but it is absolutely deliverable.

    He says that in the next two years the Conservatives will find a further £13bn of reductions to departmental spending; they will find £12bn of savings in the welfare budget; and they will find £5bn by continuing to make sure the government goes after aggressive tax avoidance and tax evasion.

     
  63.  
    10:57: The Mirror

    Jack Blanchard writes: 101 days to General Election. Here are 101 promises broken by ConDem Coalition government.

     
  64.  
    10:50: Cameron speech
    David Cameron

    Mr Cameron pledges that those earning a yearly income of less than £12,500 will not pay income tax. He also says the Conservatives will increase the 40p income tax threshold.

     
  65.  
    10:45: Cameron speech

    David Cameron says the Conservatives aim to help people by cutting their taxes. "I am a practical, down-to-earth, common-sense Conservative."

     
  66.  
    10:43: Breaking News

    David Cameron has started his campaign speech: "What we want to achieve is greater security for everyone and every family."

     
  67.  
    10:36: Cameron speech

    David Cameron is about to speak in Bursledon, Hamsphire, where he will set out the Conservative Party's third manifesto theme, a Britain that rewards work. You can watch the speech live by clicking on the Live Coverage tab at the top of this page.

     
  68.  
    10:27: Campaign countdown
    Labour MP Mike O'Brian

    There are marginal constituencies across the UK that will signpost which way this election will go. Our Midlands political editor, Patrick Burns, is in Coleshill in Warwickshire - the second most marginal seat in Britain with a Conservative majority of just 54. Labour Parliamentary candidate Mike O'Brian says he thinks it will be a Labour-Tory fight. He says the government's planned high-speed rail route could be a major issue affecting voters.

     
  69.  
    10:14: Polling matters BBC News Channel

    Is a hung Parliament the most likely outcome of the general election?

    More from Ipsos Mori's Ben Page: "A hung Parliament seems to be the most likely outcome... It could change but in 2005 the polls in January were pretty accurate predictions of what happened in May.

    "Polls are just what people are saying now. But the ones that were done in the week of the election back in 2010 were accurate to about plus or minus 1.1% for each party, which I think you'd agree is pretty good actually."

     
  70.  
    #nofracking trending on Twitter

    @suesmee tweets: As my MP, I'd like @neil_mp to vote against Cuadrilla getting the right to drill under my home - without my permission! #nofracking

    @loobylou43 tweets: I'm really hoping my MP @andrewpercy will vote for amendment 51 to the #infrastructurebill today #nofracking

     
  71.  
    10:06: Polling matters BBC News Channel
    Ben Page

    Ben Page, head of the research company Ipsos Mori, has been talking about polls leading up to the election: "Over the last month or so effectively what you've seen is Labour maybe one point ahead of the Conservatives.

    "That is a change on a year ago and they've gradually seen their lead evaporate effectively - but they are neck and neck and nobody seems to come up with something that allows them to break free of the other. It's a war of the weak in a sense."

     
  72.  
    10:04: 100 Constituencies Matthew Price BBC News

    Two interesting comments from voters here in Thurrock. First Harris, a scrap metal dealer. "What people are worried about has changed in the last five to 10 years." That will affect their vote he believes. He's voting UKIP. Second from Linda at Slimming World. "If my dad was alive and I told him I was going to vote anybody else but Labour he'd lynch me. But now you've got so many different parties. Green party, UKIP, what-have-you." It's going to be an unpredictable election.

    The BBC's Today programme will be visiting 100 constituencies between now and polling day.

     
  73.  
    09:56: Greek election fallout

    The right-wing Independent Greeks party has agreed to form a coalition with the Syriza party - which won Sunday's election. You can find out all the latest on this developing story and its implications on the BBC's dedicated Greece live page.

     
  74.  
    Robin Brant Political Correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: re: cameron hoax call, 'blagging' has been an offence since 2000 under the Data Protection Act 1998...

     
  75.  
    09:47: Hoax calls BBC Radio 4 Today
    Jon Culshaw

    Listen as comedian Jon Culshaw relives the moment he successfully hoax called Tony Blair as he impersonated William Hague, then leader of the opposition. It follows the headline from the The Sun newspaper from a drunk man claiming to have "just made complete monkeys out of GCHQ". The caller says the country's surveillance agency, who gave him the personal mobile number of their boss, also got through to the Prime Minister David Cameron.

     
  76.  
    09:41: Breaking News Mark Lowen BBC News, Athens

    It took just an hour of talks between two party leaders for the coalition to be formed. Greece's new government will comprise the leftists Syriza and a rightwing party, Independent Greeks, also fiercely anti-bailout but far more hardline on other policies such as immigration. Alexis Tsipras will see the President later today and be asked to to form a government. He will then argue he has the democratic mandate to revoke the budget cuts and persuade Europe to write off a portion of Greek debt. It'll meet a cool reception from Brussels and Berlin. Tough negotiations lie ahead to find a compromise that prevents Greece from defaulting on its debt: something that could threaten the country's place in the Euro.

     
  77.  
    09:36: Lord Mandelson warning
    Lord Mandelson

    Labour peer Lord Mandelson is warning today that his party must plan properly for a possible coalition with the Liberal Democrats. He tells the Guardian that while an outright victory is still possible, it is not defeatism to consider the consequences of a failure to win a majority.

     
  78.  
    09:33: Your comments: Fracking

    An influential committee of MPs has called for a moratorium on fracking on the grounds that it could derail efforts to tackle climate change. Paul writes: This is absolutely correct. We need to do the right thing out of principle. The only justification for fracking is greed and short term gain. Tim comments: This group of MPs is called influential. Influential but ignorant would be closer to the mark and that's a scary combination.

    Add your views via the comments module on our news story.

     
  79.  
    09:26: NHS concerns Hugh Pym Health editor

    Looking further ahead - the really big question for all parties is how they will fund the NHS over the next five years, particularly at a time, seemingly, of continued austerity. There's also an increasing and aging population, and patients are looking for better access to new drugs.

     
  80.  
    09:21: Questions for Nick
    Nick Robinson

    Are politicians delivering what you want? The BBC's Nick Robinson will be holding a Facebook Q&A about democracy - linked to his current Radio 4 series - at 13:30 GMT.

     
  81.  
    09:17: Campaign issues

    With 101 days to go the BBC has been finding out what issue most concerns you ahead of the election. The NHS emerged as the most important issue for those surveyed, ahead of the economy and immigration.

    Stats
     
  82.  
    09:15: Digital democracy
    House of Parliament

    We have been reporting on the launch of the Speaker's Commission on Digital Democracy this morning. In addition to encouraging online voting and more public participation in debates, one of its five objectives is to "ensure that everyone can understand" what the House of Commons does by 2020. As part of this, it says parliamentary language and procedures should be "simplified".

     
  83.  
    09:10: Hoax call to No 10
    Priti Patel

    Speaking to the BBC about the hoax call made to David Cameron, Treasury minister Priti Patel says "the most important thing right now is that no sensitive information was disclosed". She also stresses there will be a "full investigation" into what happened.

     
  84.  
    09:08: 100 constituencies Matthew Price BBC News
    Colin

    If Conservatives are to see off a double challenge from both UKIP and Labour in Thurrock they'll need core voters like Colin the car dealer to stick with them. He says he wants the current economic policy to continue so he does want David Cameron back in.

    (There is more on the BBC Today programme's 100 constituencies feature at 0755)

     
  85.  
    09:00: Archive treat 100: Robin Day v George Brown Alex Hunt Politics editor, BBC News Online

    Each day from now until 7 May we'll be bringing you a classic election clip from the BBC archives. We've already selected a fair few but do feel free to suggest some via email at politics@bbc.co.uk or via Twitter @bbcpolitics. Here's the first one -

    Robin Day interviewing George Brown

    If you think it all used to be honey and roses for political interviewees here's an election night clip from 1964 as BBC host Robin Day gets on the wrong side of the deputy leader of the Labour Party, George Brown, when quizzing him on the potential nationalisation of the steel industry.

     
  86.  
    08:56: Osborne full interview BBC Radio 4 Today

    The full BBC interview with Chancellor George Osborne is now online.

    Reacting to the anti-austerity party Syriza's win in the Greek elections, Mr Osborne told Today: "If your economy has shrunk you are going to look for other answers...the things the new government has promised, it's going to be very difficult to deliver."

    On Europe he added: "The institutions of the Eurozone are not working well enough for the people of Europe...people get tired of economic failure and rising unemployment."

     
  87.  
    BBC Politics

    tweets: The 2015 general election will be unlike any other http://bbc.in/1D8M48K

     
  88.  
    08:49: Fracking concerns BBC News Channel

    Joan Walley, chairwoman of the Commons Environmental Audit Committee, has told the BBC that they want the move to shale gas to be put on hold because of environmental and safety concerns. You can read more about their report here.

    Joan Walley
     
  89.  
    @robinbrant Robin Brant, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: It's back in action, up and running, primed for daily updates. The @BBCPolitics elex countdownerer @ChrisMasonBBC

    White board
     
  90.  
    Imelda Flattery BBC News

    tweets: Alexis Tsipras expected to speak to gathered journalists shortly. #Greece

    Media scrum
     
  91.  
    08:29: Greek election fallout

    More from the BBC's interview with Yanis Varoufakis, an economist who stood for Greece's Syriza party in the elections. He says a Greek exit from the eurozone is "not on the cards", and the party is not going to go to Brussels "in a confrontational style".

     
  92.  
    BBC Radio 4 Today

    tweets: 'We will take a plan to the #eurozone to minimise this Greek debacle' #Syriza candidate Yanis Varoufakis #R4today

     
  93.  
    08:22: New role for Lord Smith
    Lord Smith

    Lord Smith of Kelvin is to take on another high-profile role, after agreeing to chair of one of Scotland's largest regeneration projects. Lord Smith, who chaired the Smith Commission on Scottish devolution, will lead Clyde Gateway on delivering the post-2014 Commonwealth Games legacy. The work focuses on regenerating Glasgow's east end. Lord Smith was chairman of the Commonwealth Games organising committee and has a number of other top roles. They include chairing Forth Ports and the Green Investment Bank. He will take up his new unpaid role as chairman of Clyde Gateway next month

     
  94.  
    08:18: Hoax call to No 10 Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    No 10 stress the PM's phone number was not given out to the hoaxer. However he was put through to the PM by the switchboard.

     
  95.  
    @BBCGen2015 BBC Generation 2015

    tweets: DEADLINE: Just 1 week for 18-24s to sign up to @BBCGen2015 to take part in BBC Election progs

     
  96.  
    @bbcnickrobinson Nick Robinson, BBC Political Editor

    tweets: The Speaker wants you to be able to join in MPs debates & vote online. Good idea? Join in my Q&A on F'book at 1.30 (read more about the online voting plans)

     
  97.  
    08:10: 100 constituencies
    Working men's club

    This will help you put a face to some of the voices in Matthew Price's pre-election package from a working men's club in Tilbury, Thurrock (see 0755). Clearly this was pre-recorded, they weren't drinking on Monday morning.

     
  98.  
    08:05: Hoax call to No 10 BBC Radio 5 live

    The Surveillance Camera Commissioner for England and Wales Tony Porter has told 5 Live Breakfast that the hoax calls to GCHQ and Downing Street were a "concern" and it "doesn't reassure the public and the community". He also said "there'll be a lot of work to eradicate [it]".

     
  99.  
    Andy Burnham Shadow health secretary

    tweets: Warning from @nhsconfed & @LGAcomms about crisis in NHS & care. Labour's 10 year-plan, out tomorrow, offers solution> http://bit.ly/1wxprWw

     
  100.  
    @RobbieGibb

    tweets: On today's #bbcdp - @DouglasCarswell (UKIP), @spelmanc (Con), Andy Slaughter (Lab) and @MartinChelt (Lib Dem)

     

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