German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday (17 February) that some of David Cameron’s demands regarding the reform of the European Union are justified. When speaking to the Parliament in Berlin that, she commented on the latest negotiations between the UK and Brussels that “these are not just about Britain’s individual interests on some issues or questions, rather it is about several points that are justified and understandable.” In general, the British Prime Minister has four key demands: safeguards that the UK will not have to accept the euro, increased competitiveness, welfare restrictions to help curb immigration and an opt-out from further integration.
All of these areas have recently demonstrated that there are sharp differences between EU Member States about the future direction of the EU. Regarding migration, Angela Merkel commented that any further discussion should not be on more quotas but on more cooperation with Turkey versus the possibility of border controls including the Greek-Macedonian border. “It goes without saying that I will put the greatest effort into making sure that the European-Turkish path proves to be the path that is worth continuing”.
German Chancellor said that she believed, just like David Cameron, that “it is necessary for the EU to improve our competitiveness, transparency and (reduce) bureaucracy. Germany has shared these concerns for many years”. Before yesterday, she had mostly emphasized that any changes must not compromise fundamental EU values and achievements, such as free movement of people. Regarding the controversial proposal to put restrictions on welfare benefits, Mrs Merkel said that UK’s concerns were understandable and the proposal was “justified because the jurisdiction for each respective social system lies not in Brussels but in each individual Member State”. “Therefore, it is only natural for every Member State to be able to protect its social system against abuse,” she added.