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 531.

    Dave talks and promises .........Angela well you just have to look at her results to see that she is light years ahead of British thinking .

  • rate this

    Comment number 530.

    I am in favour of our country being allowed to make its own rules and regulations something you cannot do in the EU.Why do we have a government good bad or indifferent if we are ruled by the EU?How can you compare any countries monetary value with that or another?i was in Germany from 1963 until 1966 and where I lived a lot of produce came from Holland.

  • rate this

    Comment number 529.

    I deal with Germany a fair bit. They are always (favourably) staggered when I speak German to them. Their surprise is a symptom of how far behind the game we are when it comes to international trade.

  • rate this

    Comment number 528.

    "Isn't our royal Family German?"

    Due to anti-German sentiment during World War I they changed their name to Windsor. Queen Victoria's husband was German.

  • rate this

    Comment number 527.

    Lots of politicians from various countries having a say on it. Unfortunately the people that matter (the British public) don't get a say at all.

    Instead they have a cartel of political parties acting in opposition to public opinion and denying us a vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 526.

    Unless the members of the EU take control of its institutions and rein it in, it will inevitably acquire ever greater power and impose itself in areas that we could better regulate ourselves. The Commission isn't spontaneously going to decide that it wants less power. Nothing Merkel says assures me that we are not heading for a Superstate in which the UK will be a powerless and downtrodden minion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 525.

    I do think that the Treaty of Rome was planned to make the EU the servant of it's members. Not to make the members the servants. Resistance to change has increased, as the membership has increased. The changes that Europe needs to make will only get harder, as more countries join and the system gets more and more set in it's ways. All our friends in Europe need to support these updates.

  • rate this

    Comment number 524.


    I agree about units of measure and currency, the old imperial system does my head in. But the metric system is logical and easy to use for someone with mathematical difficulties. A system devised by the French, during the French Revolution has taken a while to be adopted globally.

    I'm all for metric myself and I cannot imagine using Imperial in a CAD environment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 523.

    Winston Churchill - European Union yes, but not a part of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 522.

    you have got to give it to the germans unions and management working as one not like in this country . now that's what I call were all in it together

  • rate this

    Comment number 521.

    Here's what the CBI, representing Britain's biggest employers, think about Britain remaining in the EU. Remember that large numbers of small businesses are suppliers to these companies and that the employees of all these companies spend their money in most of the remainder (eg local shops). I think they can speak with more authority than some random bloggers on HYS on why we need to remain in.

  • Comment number 520.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 519.

    There seems to me a big parallel here in so far that the EU wants us IN as is also the case that we do appear to want Scotland to be IN the UK.
    I do not beleieve that there is an easy answer but going back to basics with the issues in Ukrain was it not the case some years ago that the argument for the EU went on to say that it was a buffer between East and West.?

  • rate this

    Comment number 518.

    I hoped that Mrs. Merkel would at least have mentioned to our politicians that State Terrorism is outlawed under International Law:

  • rate this

    Comment number 517.

    Germany is pro EU because they run it! And what really grinds my gears is the stealthy way in which this EU superstate conspiracy has played out for the last 50 years, ie. under the guise of "economic benefit" for each sovereignty-stealing treaty. The fact that people have been deceived for 50 years about the long term objectives of the EU tells you everything you need to know about it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 516.

    Why try and tell a sovereign state that they can't have whole life tariiffs.
    Sigh. This ill-informed ignorant nonsense again.
    The EU have never tried to tell us anything of the sort. It was the ECHR.
    Whilst being a member of the ECHR is a condition of EU membership, we joined the ECHR long before the EU existed, so the EU is NOT the reason we are in the ECHR.

  • rate this

    Comment number 515.

    #496 Abdi

    The assessment of what is rational is invariably subjective i.e. it depends on your priorities and values. So, if you value economic security far more than you value the democratic process and freedom from bureaucratic control then to stay in the EU is indeed rational. However, for those of us priorities who have differing priorities membership is not necessarily rational at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 514.

    487. Alaric the Visigoth

    So Steve Thoburn just dreamt that he was being prosecuted by Sunderland Council for selling an imperial pound of bananas in contravention of EU approved measures?

    The EU tried to impose metric weights and measures on the UK and lost. I'm not interested in buying a litre of beer in Holland, I want a pint of beer in the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 513.

    504. Essexbelle
    The very idea of a German addressing Parliament sends shivers down my spine.
    Leave your bigotry at the door please. Every German i have met has been warm, caring, educated, bi-lingual and a pleasure to spend time with.

    This speech was aimed at her home crowd in Germany, the south is seeing mass immigration and the beginnings of heavy anti-EU sentiment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 512.

    To me the question is are we 'in' or 'out'. For the EU they also need to know, because this Bull from the Tories are leaving people guessing. We need a referendum before the next election because this coalition will not give a referendum if it gets back in power, as we all know that. We need the question answered before the EU loses its tolreance and decides that the UK is out, and on its own.


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