Wednesday

22nd May 2019

Merkel spends family weekend with Cameron

  • Merkel and her husband Sauer (l) showed Cameron around Meseberg castle's gardens (Photo: Bundesregierung/Denzel)

A family weekend at a castle near Berlin allowed German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron to seek common ground on an EU-US trade agreement and the fight against tax evasion.

The visit was the first time for Cameron to travel abroad for a political assignment with his wife and three children and one of the rare occasions Merkel was accompanied by her husband, Joachim Sauer.

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

According to the German chancellery, Merkel's aim was to have some quiet time away from the capital together with a "friendly" head of government.

The move comes after Cameron ruffled feathers in Berlin with his veto against a German-inspired EU treaty on fiscal discipline in December 2011 and a speech earlier this year about the need to reassess Britain's role in the EU.

Merkel's spokesman on Friday (12 April) said once again the Chancellor sees Britain as "an important and indispensable partner in Europe."

Downing Street said in a press release on Saturday the two leaders "agreed on the urgent need to make Europe more competitive and flexible and talked about ways to achieve this."

Cameron's push to claw back powers from Brussels and reassess EU's competences so far has been met with reluctance in Berlin and Paris, as well as Madrid.

But Merkel's informal session was not aimed at further polarising the British leader.

Common ground was found on an upcoming free trade agreement between the EU and the US, which both Merkel and Cameron present as a means of boosting Europe's sluggish economy.

Tax evasion was another area where the two agreed on, after a joint initiative by the finance ministers of Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain - who, on Saturday, were joined by Poland - on exchanging information about bank accounts held by their citizens abroad.

The two-day visit started on Friday evening with a dinner among the two leaders' families and a few English-speaking guests, including David McAllister, a German regional politician of Scottish descent.

On Saturday morning, the two leaders and their advisers held more political talks about EU reforms, Syria, Iran and Afghanistan, as well as the upcoming G8 summit under British chairmanship which will seek a global deal in the fight against tax evasion.

The Meseberg residence - a Baroque castle some 70 km north of Berlin - is Merkel's preferred location for informal talks with leaders away from the the media pressure of the capital.

Last year, she held several sessions with small groups of EU leaders from Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, the Netherlands and Portugal.

The mini-summits were designed to allay concerns among smaller EU states about being marginalised in the debate about the future of the eurozone.

The Cameron visit was however the first time children were also brought along, for whom Merkel prepared presents: a teddy bear for Cameron's youngest daughter, a painting set for his nine-year old daughter and a Lego set for his seven-year old son.

For their part, Merkel and her husband received a Denby tea set from the British couple.

Cameron meets Merkel to discuss EU powers

British leader Cameron is travelling to Germany for a family weekend at Merkel's holiday retreat, to try to convince the Chancellor to back him on re-evaluating EU's powers.

Key details on how Europeans will vote

It's one of the biggest democratic exercises in the world with over 400 million eligible voters. National rules apply, and national parties run, but the stakes are at European level.

Interview

Populists 'could be the opposition parliament needs'

Dutch historian and writer Luuk van Middelaar argues populists could be the new opposition in the next European Parliament and a better reflection of EU public opinion - thus actually reinforcing the body's status.

News in Brief

  1. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  2. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  3. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job
  4. May struggling to get Brexit deal passed at fourth vote
  5. German MPs show interest in 'Magnitsky' sanctions
  6. CoE: Rights violations in Hungary 'must be addressed'
  7. EU affairs ministers rubber-stamp new ban on plastics
  8. Private companies campaign to boost turnout in EU poll

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us