الأحد , يونيو 14 2020

EU tops Cameron-Merkel talks agenda

Angela Merkel and David CameronDavid Cameron is seeking to win German support for his agenda for European change

The economy and EU reforms are expected to be the focus of talks between David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Downing Street later.

Security issues, including counter-terrorism and the response to the Ebola epidemic, are likely to be discussed as part of Germany’s presidency of the G7.

No 10 said the prime minister’s agenda for future changes to the European Union was also likely to be raised.

Labour has complained that it was not informed in advance of the visit.

The visit, one of a number Mrs Merkel is making to world leaders as part of Germany’s year-long presidency of the G7 group of nations, is likely to be her last to the UK before May’s general election.

If he remains in power after the election, Mr Cameron has pledged to re-negotiate the UK’s membership of the 28-member bloc and hold a referendum by 2017 on the UK’s future participation in the EU.

The Conservatives have called for a far-reaching shake-up of welfare rules across the EU, including a four-year wait before migrants can receive certain benefits when they seek work in other countries.

Mr Cameron has said the proposals will, in some cases, require changes to existing treaties and therefore require the support of all 28 members – most of whom have said they are fundamentally opposed to any curbs which will infringe the principle of the freedom of movement across the EU.

‘Publicly supportive’

Downing Street said the pair’s talks would focus on Germany’s agenda for its G7 presidency, although Mr Cameron’s proposals to reshape the European Union and its relationship with its member states could also be discussed.

“I believe that she (Angela Merkel) is visiting a number of G7 capitals as part of that process and I would expect their discussions to principally cover that agenda,” a No 10 spokesman said.

“The global economy is at the heart of it, there are also some other issues for example there is a particular German interest in continuing the work on antimicrobial resistance.”

The spokesman added: “I’m sure EU reform as an issue will also be discussed.”

Labour has complained that the Foreign Office did not inform it of Mrs Merkel’s visit, although the party stressed that leader Ed Miliband had discussed European issues and Labour’s EU agenda with the German leader when she last visited the UK in February 2014.

“The Foreign Office usually contacts the Leader of the Opposition’s office in advance of visits from heads of government and state. Unfortunately on this occasion they failed to do so,” a Labour spokesman said.

It is understood that Mrs Merkel did not ask to meet Mr Miliband during her visit to the UK.

Labour said Mr Cameron was spending more time “negotiating” with his backbenchers over Europe than other EU leaders and there was an “unbridgeable gap” between what Tory MPs wanted and what Germany and other EU nations would accept.

“Chancellor Merkel is publicly supportive of Britain’s place in Europe, but on her visit to London she will no doubt reiterate to David Cameron that Germany is not willing to bail him out politically at any cost,” shadow minister Pat McFadden said.

During her visit to London, Mrs Merkel is also due to visit an exhibition on the history of Germany at the British Museum and will be accompanied by the prime minister.

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