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
    +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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