Monday

10th Dec 2018

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.

Merkel loyalist AKK wins CDU leadership battle

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, seen as championing similar policies to Angela Merkel, has won the CDU party leadership contest and is thus the frontrunner to become chancellor once Merkel leaves. But a split party will mean challenges.

Agenda

Brexit vote and Merkel's successor top This Week

Europe heads into uncertain territory with France in turmoil, the UK voting on the Brexit deal, and Germany will have a new leader of its largest ruling party. EU leaders will also discuss the eurozone and migration at their summit.

Opinion

Brexit, migration, cities - and the UN pact

It's not surprising that a handful of nationalist European governments – Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland and Italy – have followed Trump's lead in rejecting the UN's migration pact, to be formally adopted in Marrakech next week.

News in Brief

  1. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer wins CDU leadership election
  2. Huawei hits back at EU commissioner warning
  3. EU digital commissioner 'worried' on Huawei situation
  4. EU adopts controversial definition of 'antisemitism'
  5. France braces for weekend riots
  6. Italy's 'Salvini decree' renders migrants homeless
  7. Latvia rejects UN migrant pact
  8. EU's new 10,000 border guard force may not be 'feasible'

Agenda

Brexit vote and Merkel's successor top This Week

Europe heads into uncertain territory with France in turmoil, the UK voting on the Brexit deal, and Germany will have a new leader of its largest ruling party. EU leaders will also discuss the eurozone and migration at their summit.

Investigation

'Redacted' - what Google and Microsoft told Mogherini on AI

Is Mogherini's 'Global Tech Panel' just a talking shop, or does it contribute to EU policy? New documents suggest the latter, but give little clue how technology leaders from Microsoft and Google influence new AI strategy.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Merkel loyalist AKK wins CDU leadership battle
  2. Brexit vote and Merkel's successor top This Week
  3. Brexit, migration, cities - and the UN pact
  4. EU Commission spins half-truth on 'unsafe' refugee boats
  5. COP24 Nordic Pavilion: sharing climate solutions with the world
  6. From Malta to Poland: each EU state to have AI strategy
  7. Hungary and Poland: EU capitals of homophobia
  8. Austerity did not help Italy - maybe spending will?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us