Tuesday

26th May 2020

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

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.

Jourova: Ease emergency powers - especially Hungary

The EU commission vice-president said that as member states relax lockdwon measures, it is time to roll back the state of emergencies that affect democracy and fundamental rights. Hungary said it might end extra powers in June.

News in Brief

  1. Johnson: Shops in UK will reopen on 15 June
  2. German doctors: Summer holidays could cause second wave
  3. EU forced to choose between China and US: Borrell
  4. Spain to lift two-week arrival quarantine from July
  5. Germany gives Lufthansa €9bn bailout for equity stake
  6. Volkswagen ordered to pay in landmark 'dieselgate' case
  7. 40 million health workers urge more G20 investment
  8. Jourova: Budget rule-of-law link 'more needed than ever'

Five new post-Brexit MEPs to watch

Five MEPs to keep an eye on from the 27 new members who are joining the European Parliament this week, following the UK's departure from the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  3. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic co-operation on COVID-19
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic research collaboration on pandemics

Latest News

  1. How Kaczyński ruined Poland, judges tell MEPs
  2. EU data protection rules abused to censor media
  3. Draft EU 'green recovery' plan amid clash over natural gas
  4. Clock is ticking: 300,000 vs 3.3m Covid-19 Africa deaths?
  5. Recovery plans unveiled This WEEK
  6. EU and UK stumbling into Irish border crisis
  7. Malta patrol boat 'intimidates' capsized migrants
  8. How coronavirus might hit EU defence spending

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us