Wednesday

19th Jun 2019

Germany gives no ground to UK on EU migration

  • Merkel - No changes to EU freedom of movement rules. (Photo: Crown)

Angela Merkel gave no new ground to UK prime minister David Cameron on curbing EU migration following talks in London, stating that abuse of welfare benefits by EU migrants could be dealt with by governments.

Speaking on Wednesday evening (7 January) after a day of talks with the UK prime minister, and a visit to an exhibition on the history of Germany at the British Museum, the German chancellor reiterated her support for the UK remaining in the European Union.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"We would very much like to have the UK in a strong and successful Europe,” she said.

But when questioned by reporters whether she would support changes to the EU treaties to crack down on so-called welfare tourism, Merkel played down the prospect.

“As regards freedom of movement, as David quite rightly said, we have no doubt about the principle of freedom of movement being in any way questioned. But we also have to look at abuse. We are looking at legislation here. We want to see how this plays out at local level,” she noted.

Cameron wants to toughen the rules on EU migrants entering the UK including a requirement that they have a job within six months of arriving in the UK.

He also wants them to wait four years before they can receive certain benefits and ending the payment of child benefit to dependents of EU migrants in their home country.

However, last autumn Cameron dropped a plan to cap the number EU nationals able to come to the UK following opposition from Berlin.

The meeting is one of a series of get-togethers planned by the German chancellor with world leaders as part of Germany’s presidency of the G7 group of the world’s richest nations.

For his part, Cameron struck a placatory tone in his remarks, commenting that “I support freedom of movement. But what I don’t support is the abuse of freedom of movement.”

He added that he was "convinced" he could "fix the problems" in the UK's relationship with Europe.

The UK will go to the polls in May, with Cameron’s Conservative party slightly behind the opposition Labour party, which has also proposed crackdowns on migrants’ access to welfare benefits, in most surveys.

However, rising support for the UK Independence party and the Scottish Nationalists suggests that neither major party is likely to form a majority on their own.

The prime minister has promised to renegotiate the UK’s membership terms if he wins the election, followed by an in-out referendum before the end of 2017.

But he indicated at the weekend that he would be “delighted” to hold the referendum sooner if possible. He also refused to rule out the prospect of a coalition with Ukip, which demands the UK’s exit from the 28-country bloc.

Meanwhile, Merkel maintained that she had “no doubt whatsoever” that Greece would stick to the terms of its bailout and remain in the eurozone, despite the likely prospect of the left-wing Syriza party winning parliamentary elections later this month”.

“Greece has actually made a lot of sacrifices for many, many people in Greece. These were very difficult years. We have come a long way,” Merkel said.

UK's EU referendum could be held earlier

Cameron has said he will not rule out an earlier-than-planned referendum on EU membership should he remain in office after the May general election.

EU and UK caught in bad romance, Juncker warns

Juncker has given the clearest hint yet he would be prepared to see the UK leave the EU, comparing the its 42-year membership of the bloc to a romance gone wrong.

EU urges Swiss to move on talks or face sanction

The EU commission tells Switzerland that clarifications to the draft deal are possible - but not renegotiations. The message is clear to 'Brexit' Britain as well: the Swiss model is over, there are no special agreements.

Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court

The General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg will next month hold a public hearing on the refusal by Frontex, the EU's border agency, to release documents concerning its border control and surveillance operation known as Triton.

News in Brief

  1. New socialist group leader to push for Timmermans
  2. Romanian ex-PM frontrunner to head new liberal group
  3. France, Germany and Spain in fighter jet deal
  4. Tusk grilled in Poland over role as PM
  5. Italy is 'most credible' US partner in EU, says Salvini
  6. EU blames Sudan junta for killings and rapes
  7. Report: EU may suspend Turkey customs union talks
  8. Swiss stock exchange could lose EU access in July

Interview

Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC

Juan Branco is a lawyer and co-author of a legal document submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) accusing EU officials and member states of crimes against humanity for their migration policies. "Some people should have to go to prison."

Agenda

Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK

A summit in Belgian capital this week will host heads of government and state to discuss top EU institutional posts. But before they meet, the jockeying for the Commission presidency will have already started among the European political groups.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. EU urges Swiss to move on talks or face sanction
  2. Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court
  3. Commission goes easy on scant national climate plans
  4. Macron and Mogherini decline to back US accusation on Iran
  5. EU summit must give effective answer on migration
  6. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament
  7. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  8. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us