Friday

3rd Feb 2023

Merkel and Cameron disagree on EU treaty change

  • Angela Merkel received David Cameron in Berlin (Photo: Valentina Pop)

UK Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday (21 May) rejected the the idea of a new EU treaty change to accommodate German chancellor Angela Merkel's vision of stronger economic co-ordination in the EU.

"There is no question of agreeing to a treaty that transfers powers from Westminster to Brussels. Britain is obviously not in the eurozone and is not going to be joining, so it wouldn't agree to any treaty that drew us further into the euro area," Mr Cameron said on Friday (21 May) during a joint press conference with Ms Merkel in Berlin.

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The German leader for her part insisted that any treaty change would not mean giving more powers to Brussels.

A treaty change would require a referendum in Britain and is likely to result in a No vote.

Mr Cameron insisted, however, that new government in London wanted Britain to be a "positive player in Europe" and had every interest in the eurozone being stable.

While stressing the need to enhance the "stability culture" of the euro-countries, Ms Merkel did not rule out a treaty change, but said this would have to be agreed at a later point in time.

"Germany tabled some ideas where a treaty change plays a certain role, but let me tell you we're at the beginning, it's very early days as regards to the working group [a taskforce led by EU council president Herman Van Rompuy] and there is no agreement yet in the group about what needs to be done," she said.

Berlin's insistence on a treaty change stems from its legal tradition and potential constitutional challenges to measures taken outside the EU treaty, such as the rescue package for the eurozone, which the Bundestag passed on Friday.

But the British premier said that such a treaty change would require unanimity of all 27 EU states, not just the 16 countries in the euro area, in which case the UK would make use of its veto right.

The two leaders did agree on the need to curb deficits across the EU, while Ms Merkel stressed the "positive role" the UK can play in improving the image of the EU as a prosperous area, not one of stagnation and economic slump.

In Germany's view, sustainable economic growth, innovation and research are the way forward and here it sees a role for the so-called economic governance which the French government is pushing for the euro area.

But Berlin believes that economic policy co-ordination should take place among all 27 EU member states, otherwise the eurozone would become too "inward looking" and would exclude countries such as Sweden and Poland.

Also, there is no "Eurogroup parliament", as opposed to the EU legislature which is elected from all 27 member states, the Germans point out.

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