Sunday

25th Jun 2017

Germany makes case for British EU membership

  • London - a valued free trade-oriented EU member, says Germany (Photo: UK Parliament)

Germany has told the UK it is an important and needed member of the European Union, just days after London spelled out its deep ambivalence about its EU future.

"Britain is an important partner in the European Union," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a meeting of her centre-right CDU party on Monday (29 October), adding that she would travel to London next week to meet Prime Minister David Cameron.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

She noted London's emphasis on free trade and the single market, with Berlin viewing the UK as a key counterbalance to more protectionist-minded southern states.

"Britain has to some extent other ideas (about Europe), it does not want such close integration. But from the German perspective, from the point of view of our interests it is an important member of the EU. They are for free trade, for greater competitiveness, so they are a very good partner," she said, according to Reuters.

Her finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said much the same at an event in Saint Anthony's College in Oxford.

"In my view the British voice is sorely needed in this competition of ideas," he said, with the EU currently discussing future reforms.

"I firmly believe Europe would be the poorer without this input to our debates. Britain should retain and regain a place at the centre of Europe because this will be good for the European Union."

The public display of diplomatic affection comes after what has been seen as a change in the UK's relations with the EU.

London has long been known for its luke-warm EU disposition - clearly on display in a speech by foreign minister William Hague in Berlin last week. But in recent months its expressions of disaffection have increasingly been met with shrugs of indifference as other member states attempt to overcome the eurozone's financial and economic problems.

The EU's own response to London's criticism has become more aggressive.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso attends debates in the European Parliament armed with facts on Britain so he can retaliate to jibes from British eurosceptics. Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski, recently defending the EU's proposed budget, was able to spell out exactly how much the EU budget costs in comparison to British spending on its fire brigade.

Meanwhile the EU's long-term budget itself, due to be negotiated at a summit on 22-23 November in Brussels, is being viewed as something of a testing point in London's EU relations.

Prime Minister Cameron, under severe pressure from his own Conservative party to deliver a hardline stance on Europe, threatened to veto the budget if he considers it too high.

The tense relations between London and Brussels has prompted former prime minister Tony Blair to take the stage on EU affairs once more.

In a speech to the Council for the Future of Europe in Berlin on Monday, Blair said creating a two-speed Europe would put the EU on a "path to break up."

"It is massively in Britain's interest not to play short-term politics with this issue. Personally I would like to see the UK take a constructive role in shaping this new union," he said, according to the Guardian.

UK threatens to veto EU budget

British conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will block the upcoming EU seven-year budget cycle if it goes against UK interests.

Hague makes case for minimalist EU

British foreign minister Hague has made the case for a politically minimalist European Union as it prepares to audit its relations with Brussels.

EU to be federalised in the long run, Merkel says

The EU commission will eventually become a government, the council of member states an "upper chamber" and the European Parliament will be more powerful, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Brussels.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  2. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  3. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  4. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  5. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  6. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  7. Ireland and Denmark outside EU military plan
  8. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  2. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  3. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  4. EU extends sanctions on Russia
  5. UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'
  6. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  7. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  8. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit