Friday 23 February 2018

Merkel offers treaty hopes to Cameron

German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets British Prime Minister David Cameron in Berlin
German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets British Prime Minister David Cameron in Berlin

Matthew Holehouse in Berlin

GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel, has handed British Prime Minister David Cameron's bid to reform the EU a major boost, saying that treaty change is not "impossible".

Following talks with Mr Cameron in Berlin, the German Chancellor said that European leaders "shouldn't be saying that changing the treaties is totally impossible".

The Prime Minister is demanding major changes to Britain's relationship with Brussels before the in-out referendum he has promised to hold by the end of 2017.

A number of EU countries, including Poland, have suggested that Mr Cameron's demands to change welfare rules will be blocked. The Prime Minister wants to stop EU migrants from claiming benefits in the UK for four years and has said treaty change will be necessary to achieve his reforms.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel receives British Prime Minister David Cameron with military honours

A series of EU leaders have said that treaty change will be blocked by Brussels.

However, Mrs Merkel said: "We have the desire to work very closely together. We would like to be a constructive partner in this process. We shouldn't be saying changing the treaties is totally impossible. Wherever there is a desire there is also a way and this should be our guiding principle."

She added: "Of course we can accommodate these desires."

The Prime Minister said: "I was very heartened by what the Chancellor said in terms of where there's a will there's a way."

Her comments will be welcomed by Downing Street and will be seen as a major sign that Germany is willing to meet Mr Cameron's demands.

Mrs Merkel laid on the red carpet for Mr Cameron in Berlin, the fourth and final stop of his two-day Europe tour to sell his plans for reform of Europe. He was greeted at the Federal Chancellery by a marching band, which played the British and German national anthems, and a large detachment of sailors. Angela Merkel is listed by Forbes as the most powerful woman in the world

Earlier in the morning, over breakfast at the Palace on the Water in Warsaw, Poland's Prime Minister told Mr Cameron she would fight his plans to strip EU migrants of in-work benefits such as tax credits.

Mr Cameron believes he can cut soaring migration from Europe by removing the state subsidy for low paid work for foreigners for four years, making life in Britain "less attractive".

It is the centrepiece of his reform agenda, and it has caused outrage in Poland where politicians are vowing to defend the "rights" of their expatriates, many of whom send their earnings back home. (Daily Telegraph, London)

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