Wednesday

25th Apr 2018

Merkel: EU needs Britain in order to reform

  • Britain should not get its hopes too high about Germany's support for EU opt-outs, said Merkel (Photo: gov.uk)

Chancellor Angela Merkel, the first German leader to address the British Parliament in almost 30 years, made a strong case for why the EU "needs" the UK on Thursday (27 February).

Both the Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron and, reportedly, the Labour opposition party, are envisaging a referendum on British EU membership if they win elections next year.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"We need a strong United Kingdom with a strong voice in the EU," Merkel said in English.

After having liberated the continent from Nazi rule, Britain "does not need to bring proof of its commitment to Europe and freedom," she added.

She thanked the 1.7 million British servicemen who served in Germany and said her country was "grateful" to Britain for trusting in German democracy after the horrors of the Second World War.

"We owe it to Churchill, de Gaulle, Adenauer that conflicts of interest nowadays are resolved at table, not on the battlefields," Merkel said, referring to Europe's wartime and post-war leaders.

But with all the focus on what unites Germany and Britain, ranging from foreign policy to EU budget cuts, Merkel from the very outset downplayed expectations raised by British politicians that she will back Cameron's push a complete overhaul of the EU.

"Some expect my speech to pave the way for a fundamental reform of the European architecture which will satisfy all kinds of alleged or actual British wishes. I am afraid they are in for a disappointment," she said.

"Others are expecting the exact opposite, that I will deliver the clear and simple message here in London that the rest of Europe is not prepared to pay almost any price to keep Britain in the European Union. I am afraid these hopes will be disappointed as well."

EU reform, yes, but "step by step," not in "great leaps," the Chancellor noted, switching again to English and quoting from the speech of German President Richard von Weizsaecker, who spoke in the British Parliament in 1987.

On freedom of movement - a thorny issue for Cameron who seeks to curb the access of people from other EU countries to social benefits - Merkel said it was "one of the greatest achievements" of the European project.

"But it is also true that in order to maintain this and gain the acceptance of our citizens, we need to muster the courage to point out the mistakes and tackle them," she noted.

She did not shy away from pointing at the financial sector and its responsibility for the euro-crisis.

"Never again should taxpayers have to pay for the mistakes of banks and financial institutions. The financial industry has a responsibility for the common good. I say that on purpose here in London, because the City of London is of great importance for the European financial market and for the economy of all EU countries," the Chancellor said.

Analysis

New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability

The EU's latest funding rules for European political parties and their think tanks fails to address the underlying problems of abuse. Instead of tackling the loans and donations culture, it has simply made access to EU funds a lot easier.

MEPs set limits to Macron's ambitions

The French president tried to woo the European Parliament but found that his quest for leadership will have to abide by the rules set by the European political groups.

Analysis

Macron relaunches his bid for EU leadership

In a speech to the European Parliament on Tuesday and then at a meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, the French president will try to get support for his EU reform proposals.

Feature

Hungary activists defiant after 'Soros Mercenaries' attack

Immediately after Orban's landslide victory in April, a list of so-called 'Soros mercenaries' was published by pro-government media. Those on it - mostly human rights defenders, activists and Orban critics - are now anxious but vow to continue.

Analysis

New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability

The EU's latest funding rules for European political parties and their think tanks fails to address the underlying problems of abuse. Instead of tackling the loans and donations culture, it has simply made access to EU funds a lot easier.

News in Brief

  1. UN expects over $4bn in pledges for Syria
  2. Commission wants more public data made available for reuse
  3. Study: Brexit will hit all European farmers
  4. European media face rise in 'verbal violence' from politicians
  5. Greenland PM to keep power despite poll slump
  6. Commissioner optimistic on FYROM name solution
  7. Italian court keeps NGO migrant rescue boat docked
  8. German Jews warned not to wear skullcap in public

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  2. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  5. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  6. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  8. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  9. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  10. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  11. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  12. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip

Latest News

  1. Whistleblowers could be enforcers of rule of law in Europe
  2. EU shelves Macron idea for 'European Darpa'
  3. Don't play EU 'games' with military HQs, Italian admiral says
  4. EU had a plan for Jordan - now it's time to make it work
  5. Time for EU to take charge of global health research agenda
  6. EU in race to set global Artificial Intelligence ethics standards
  7. Juncker delays air quality action due to busy agenda
  8. Spain makes bid for EU naval HQ