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

    Comment number 391.


    I'm going to assume you've never actually had to live on minimum wage. Full-time work (say 40 hours a week) at minimum wage is barely enough to live on, when you take into account taxes, bills, and general spending. After all that there's next to nothing left money-wise to do anything except exist.

    So yes, the minimum wage should increase.

  • rate this

    Comment number 390.

    355. AndyT
    "federal state of EU is not one anyone in the UK (or Europe) voted for"

    The goals of the Treaty of Rome were very clear at the time of the 1975 referendum (as Benn on the left and Powell on the right kept saying). If you didn't grasp that, then don't blame anyone but yourself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 389.

    @ 360. OrdinaryWorld
    More Anti Europe Rubbish, Germany has a much better defined minimum wage structure than the UK
    You can see it here

  • rate this

    Comment number 388.

    The EU Commission is the foreign equivalent of our House of Lords, in that it has veto over new EU legislation, and someone other than the voters, decides which plutocrats sit on it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 387.

    The only reason the germans want us to stay in the EU is that they would have to pick up most of the money we currently send to Brussels as a major net contributor.

    They know Brussels would not trim its budgets with the loss of UK income.

  • rate this

    Comment number 386.

    Basically Merkel's message was don't plan on having your cake and eat it. However, please work with the EU to make a better cake for all of us.

    That won't make those happy who think negotiation is the process of imposing your conditions that you expect others to capitulate on. But in what universe is the UK imposing its demands on 27 other states an example of "democracy in action"?

  • rate this

    Comment number 385.

    355. AndyT
    "federal state of EU is not one anyone in the UK (or Europe) voted for"
    You are wrong. I did. I understood the EEC to be progress towards Churchill's vision when I voted.

    Incidentally it's good to see one of the regular pedlars of hate on these pages have all his posts removed. Seems he lost his temper and blurted out his true, (like many's in UKIP) beliefs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 384.


    The point surely is that whether or not Cameron's position makes sense, the people of Scotland are being given a choice, a choice denied to the rest of us. Now that doesn't make sense to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 383.

    I respect the Germans very much and sometimes think we should take a leaf out of their book. However she spoke about democracy and that's the reason I will be voting to leave the EU if we get a referendum.
    I believe we would be stronger together but its not worth sacrificing our democracy for. If we could elect the European commission so we can choose between mandates then I would vote to stay in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 382.

    Germany has a highly successful economy, lower income inequality, and is not a slave to short termism. High quality healthcare provided by public and private service providers. Excellent apprenticeships and vocational training is a real alterantive to student indebtedness. No £9000 a year university fees? All done without indigeneous oil and gas, and with reunification costs (Scotland?).

  • rate this

    Comment number 381.

    Yesterday the EU government over regulated and devalued e-cigs to such an extent to those who still smoke due to the lobbying of big tobacco and big pharma, it amounts to a ban on their use in the future. Lives sold to the big money boys by the corrupt MEPs of Europe.

    It was corruption on a genocidal scale.

    I say out as fast as we can go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 380.


    Anybody wanna tell the bbc Germany has no minimum wage and pay freezes for 15years thats why it has a massive manufacturing industry.

    While idiots here keep wanting the minimum wage to increase
    Germany doesn't have a minimum wage for the simple reason German companies wouldn't dream of employing people for wages that low.

  • rate this

    Comment number 379.

    Nice picture of Dave talking (telling?) Milliband & Clegg what?
    I dare say Private Eye will have a suitable bubble caption on next months issue.

    Looks like Ed is taking it all in.
    Nick don't look all that happy though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 378.

    I have no problem Mrs Merkel speaking her own language.
    Tony Blair did once address the French parliament in French, but that's the only occasion I can think of where a UK leader has used a foreign tongue (lol apart from Maggie saying "Non, non. non!"

  • rate this

    Comment number 377.

    I love the way Germans always say how good the EU is and it has helped their economy and how well they are doing. Merkel was never going to give any ground. It was set up to stop Germany running riot again. Of course Germany will do well with it, the EU was tailor made for them.

    Half of Germany is used to oppressive regimes, we are not.

    A reason to stay in has got to more than the economy

  • rate this

    Comment number 376.

    Germany knows as much about coalition politics as any EU state..the EU is a coalition of sorts albeit without sovereign status.We can learn from Angela Merkel about getting things done in such situations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 375.

    We don't need a German chancellor telling us what is in our best interests. History has one of those - Mr Hitler - and we didn't listen then and I hope won't listen now.
    Of course the Europeans want us to stay in their club - we are net contributors so why wouldn't they?

  • rate this

    Comment number 374.

    "She is going to address Westminster in German??"

    As did Kings George I and II, so what's your point?

  • rate this

    Comment number 373.

    She is anti British and will use her speech for her own political ends adding a bit of false toffee for the fools.

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    Ironic how David Cameron wants to leave the EU, yet is convinced that Scotland should stay with the UK. It doesn't make sense to me.


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