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3rd Mar 2024

Cameron asks Germans to help keep Britain in EU

  • Cameron wants to enlist Merkel's support for his EU reforms (Photo: Consillium)

UK prime minister David Cameron appealed to Germany on Thursday (7 January) to support his proposed changes to the EU, arguing they would help to persuade Britons to stay in the bloc.

Cameron is on a visit to Germany, where he met with chancellor Angela Merkel in Bavaria on Wednesday and will outline his reform ideas on Thursday at the annual conference of the sister party of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, the Christian Social Union.

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The UK prime minister campaigned in the EU’s largest economy to enlist its support for his reform proposals ahead of EU leaders’ meeting next month in Brussels.

If a deal is reached in February, Cameron could call for a referendum in June.

In an article appearing in Germany’s biggest-selling newspaper, Bild, Cameron argued support for the UK’s membership has declined and the changes will help address the concerns of the British people.

"But these changes will benefit the EU too, and Germany can help deliver them," he wrote.

"The problems in the EU that what we are trying to fix are problems for Germany and other European partners too," he argued.

Cameron wants to cut EU bureaucracy and shift powers from Brussels to national capitals.

He also wants to make sure Britain will be involved in economic decisions of the 19-member eurozone so it can protect British interests, and be also protected from political integration.

The most controversial point of Cameron’s proposals is to cut in-work benefits for EU migrants during their first four years in Britain.

Concerns have been raised that this could harm the EU’s core value of freedom of movement.

Eastern European member states, that have seen large number of workers migrating to Britain for work, have been reluctant to sign up, arguing that Cameron’s proposal is discriminatory.

Germany’s backing is crucial to the UK getting the deal on migration and welfare.

Merkel has said last month, "we will not put the fundamental achievements of European integration in question, in particular, the principles of freedom of movement and non-discrimination of European citizens," AFP reported.

Cameron argued in Bild that the UK was not questioning the freedom of movement.

"We want to stop people taking out from a welfare system without contributing to it first," he wrote.

"Like Germany, Britain believes in the principle of free movement of workers. But that should not mean the current freedom to claim all benefits from day one and that's why I've proposed restricting this for the first four years," Cameron argued.

He suggested that curbing migrants' benefits would make a "big difference" to whether the UK stayed.

Cameron is later due to travel to Hungary for talks with prime minister Viktor Orban, who on Wednesday met with the head of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, and Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo.

As the campaign ahead of the referendum heats up, a new UK cross-party campaign group is pushing for an EU exit.

Conservative MPs Peter Bone and Tom Pursglove, Labour's Kate Hoey and UKIP Leader Nigel Farage will announce the formation of Grassroots Out at a series of public events, the BBC reported.

Member states gain time in UK talks

British prime minister David Cameron and his partners vowed to find "mutually satisfactory solutions" to keep Britain in the EU but laid out no clear roadmap.

Eurosceptic MPs put Cameron under pressure

Conservative MPs have asked Cameron to let them campaign for an Out vote, with a former British defence minister saying the UK should leave the union.

UK talks: Cameron 'will have to face reality'

The British prime minister is to present his demands for EU reforms to the other leaders. Cuts in benefits for EU citizens and treaty change will face strong opposition.

Hungary open to UK deal if it avoids discrimination

Hungary could support to the UK's proposals to curb in-work benefits, as long as they do not discriminate against Hungarian workers, prime minister Viktor Orban stressed as he hosted David Cameron in Budapest.

'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child

During a plenary session in Strasbourg, an MEP was denied access to the chamber because he was carrying his young child, due to unforeseen circumstances. The episode shows parliament's rules need to be updated, several MEPs told EUobserver.

EU Commission clears Poland's access to up to €137bn EU funds

The European Commission has legally paved the way for Poland to access up to €137bn EU funds, following Donald Tusk's government's efforts to strengthen the independence of their judiciary and restore the rule of law in the country.

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