Tuesday

16th Apr 2024

Germans and Brits back EU vetoes for national parliaments

  • Merkel will become the first Chancellor of a re-unified German to address the UK parliament on Thursday (Photo: Bundesregierung)

Most British and German voters believe that national parliaments should be able to block new EU laws, according to a survey published on Wednesday (26 February).

Seventy three percent of Britons and 58 percent of Germans think that either each country’s national parliament or a group of national parliaments should be able to block proposed new EU laws. Under the current system, legislative proposals can be sent back to the European Commission to be re-considered if one third of national parliaments agree.

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Meanwhile, a majority of those surveyed in both countries said issues such as EU migrants' access to welfare benefits, EU employment and criminal justice laws, and regional subsidies should be decided at national rather than EU level.

However, German voters felt that policies relating to environmental protection and climate change, as well as trade, would be better dealt with in Brussels.

They are also four times as likely to support further EU integration than their British counterparts

The poll was put together for the campaign group Open Europe, which wants the EU to focus more on deregulation and the single market, and comes on the eve of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to London on Thursday (27 February).

British leader David Cameron's government is eager to make an ally of Merkel, who is widely regarded as Europe's most powerful politician, and who was described as the UK's "most important partner" in reforming the EU by foreign minister William Hague in an interview on Sunday.

As a result, Merkel is set to receive a lavish welcome during her visit.

She will become the first German Chancellor to address both chambers of the Westminster parliament since Willy Brandt in 1970, meet with government and opposition leaders, and have tea with the Queen.

The UK government wants the EU to focus more on completing the single market and on negotiating trade deals with the likes of Japan, China and the United States.

But its wish list also includes revision of the UK's membership terms of the bloc, which Cameron has promised to do if his Conservative party wins the 2015 election.

Opt outs from EU legislation affecting employment and social affairs, including the controversial working time directive, are likely to be at the top of any UK wish list, alongside special treatment of the City of London's financial institutions.

But although the German Chancellor suggested that competences could be returned from Brussels to national governments during last autumn's re-election campaign, Merkel is unlikely to offer any new concessions to Cameron in her speech.

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