Merkel: I can't satisfy all Britain's EU wishes

Updated: 2014-02-28 10:41


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Merkel: I can't satisfy all Britain's EU wishes

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a news conference at Number 10 Downing Street in London, Feb 27, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

LONDON - German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Prime Minister David Cameron she did not support the kind of fundamental reform of the European Union he wanted, but said Britain should stay inside the bloc to help make it more competitive.

In a speech to both houses of Britain's parliament - only the third time a German leader had spoken there since World War Two - Merkel, the leader of the EU's most powerful state, ruled out the prospect of a far-reaching overhaul of the bloc's treaties, signalling she was open to modest reforms only.

"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," Merkel said in English.

"Others are expecting the exact opposite and they are hoping 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 dashed," she said.

In London for a one-day visit, Merkel was speaking at a time when uncertainty about Britain's future in the EU is rising because of a promise by Cameron to offer Britons a referendum on whether to leave the 28-nation bloc or not, if he wins a national election next year.

Under pressure from eurosceptics in his Conservative party and from the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) ahead of European elections in May and next year's national vote, Cameron has promised to try to reshape Britain's EU ties first.

He has not spelt out all the reforms he wants, but made clear he wants to curb freedom of movement for people from poorer new EU member states, combat pan-EU "welfare shopping", cut swathes of EU red tape and improve competitiveness.

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