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 451.

    430. Bradford
    "see new net immigration"
    But far and away the most of that is from outside the EU. Not only that, but EU relocators usually return, to buy much cheaper homes with their savings. Nor have any been terrorists, unlike some born here (who others mistakenly call immigrants, on account of their parents/grandparents origins).

    Anti-EU opinion is declining too in the UK, by the way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 450.

    the greatest asset in Europe is diversity not the monolithic entity the EU currently seeks"

    That's known as a "strawman". The EU shows no sign of wishing a "monolithic entity", let alone any of its members. Why would it fund (say) minority languages or have 24 official languages if it wanted to to become monolithic?

  • rate this

    Comment number 449.

    It is ironic, however, that Merkel should make her speech in front of paintings depicting British victories in the Napoleonic wars. A conflict, much like the two world wars in which Britain fought to prevent the build-up of a dominant centralised power on the continent. We have to realise that the EU referendum will be a vote for or against the survival of the sovereign British nation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 448.

    In May 2014 there will be a chance to get rid of the leftists from EP .

  • rate this

    Comment number 447.


    Nazis are Socialists like Scientologists are Scientists

    The "Conservatives" are not into "conservation" of anything except their own way of life for themselves. Certainly nothing to do with the environment.

    Are the "peoples popular front of Judea" actually popular?

    These are intentional misrepresentations aimed at disception
    So, no, it isn't in a name,

  • rate this

    Comment number 446.

    judging by the comments on here, they should bring on the referendum on EU membership....BUT, we need to keep tories in power to get one. rock and hard place!

  • rate this

    Comment number 445.

    Forget a federal "United States of Europe" and go back to being a shared common market place (both for goods and workers) and people shouldn't have too many issues. That way all countries in the EU retain their own sovereignties and cultures and in this day and age should be able to work together.

    Take away a countries sovereignty and watch and wait for nationalism to appear.

    Just my opinion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 444.

    418. MightyScotsPine You should be careful when you claim to speak for all British people. You don't speak for me, I have no problem with a federal Europe and I would like us to be in the Euro, it has been more successful over the last ten years than the pound. You used to get 1.6 euros to the pound now you only get 1.2

  • rate this

    Comment number 443.

    In 1975 the UK voted on the concrete T&C of the Treaty of Rome, not ..l dreams of a European Federal state

    {WE the above signed are]
    "Determined to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe"
    "Resolved to ensure the economic and social progress of their countries by common action to eliminate the barriers which divide Europe"

    concrete enough

  • rate this

    Comment number 442.

    As someone who has grown up only ever knowing that our country is in the EC and then the EU I want our country to remain an integral part. We need to stop whinging and whining and start being constructive player. Otherwise we will be sidelined and that would be far worse for our national interest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 441.

    The EU is a mixed up jumble of disparate unequal economies and cultures, not to mention languages, that do not even pretend to sing from the same Hymn sheet nor pull together in crises.
    It costs us to belong to the EU and for the privelege we have to be subservient to their laws and views.
    Yet when we need their support they are nowhere to be seen so we have to go it alone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 440.

    "Shaunie Babes
    A handful of British people abroad - evil imperialism
    Mass foreign influx into Britain - ethnic diversity"

    But ONS stats show 2.2m Brits living in the EU, 2.3m EU citizens living here. Please enlighten us as to what you think will happen to the Brits if we kicked out the EU citizens?

    Remember it was that "lefty" Margaret Thatcher that signed the UK into freedom of mobility.

  • rate this

    Comment number 439.

    Mrs.Merkel is playing her cards close - by inclination she sympathises with Cameron's objectives but is constrained by her own coalition.
    The degree to which she can travel toward a new all accomodating EU will depend on Cameron winning the 2015 election and the real threat of a UK out vote.
    UK withdrawl would endanger the whole edifice but, in Germany, it takes time for them to believe us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 438.

    Stay in the EU, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, No Way Merkel,
    Staying in is only for conservatives not ordinary people Oops that's about 90% of the country besides we did not fight two world wars just to give Germany our country and freedom, Oops yes we did, Time to take back our country those opposed move to Germany OK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 437.

    426. knickknack firstly there is a big difference between working a Costa and being on benefits, secondly how may British people want to work there or do other basic jobs that we all take for granted. These people do the jobs that British people have become too lazy to do and this country would grind to a halt without them. Got to stop now my shift at costa starts in 10min

  • rate this

    Comment number 436.

    I've never really understood why Labour and the trade unions give overwhelming support for the overtly capitalist institution that is the European Union.

    Backbench Tories don't like the EU because they don't like being told what to do by Johnny Foreigner but their capitalist ideology of cheap labour and open markets makes it a perfect match for the Conservatives.

    We live in a topsy-turvy world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 435.

    Time to get out of the corrupt, unaccountable club, only thing it has given us is an extra 4-5 million people draining our public services and civil unrest and we have to pay the club for that privilege, time to leave

  • rate this

    Comment number 434.

    Mrs Merkel is a scientist. Cameron and all the leading politicians are not. Mrs Merkel knows how to analyse situations and implement sensible policies unfettered by the complicated mixed up mind set of those with degrees in politics, philosophy and economics.
    Can we do a prime minister swap for 6 months? We would benefit; Germany would be aghast at the mind-set of our leader.
    We need revolt !

  • rate this

    Comment number 433.

    JonoWith. Sorry but I just watched it and she spoke German with the voice over in English from a translator. Only when summing up for the last few seconds did she speak English. Not that it bothered me as she is German.

  • rate this

    Comment number 432.

    Judging by the ignorant comments on HYS, Germany has no immigration problems, concerning schools, benefits, jobs, social problems, housing, it has no drug or prostitute or crime problems, no energy problems & all its towns/citys are prosperous & everything is just 100% perfect, no-one complains about the EU, or cuts or job losses or local governments in dire debt.

    Such a Germany does NOT exist.


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