Merkel: “we can also consider whether we can give something back”

John Rentoul

times 264x300 Merkel: we can also consider whether we can give something backAngela Merkel’s comment on Tuesday should be noted well. In full:

I believe that in Europe at the moment we have to take care to coordinate our competitiveness more closely, and for that we don’t have to do everything in Brussels. “More Europe” can not only mean transferring competences from national states to Europe, but you can also have “more Europe” by coordinating national political actions more intensively and rigorously with others. So we discuss if we need even more competences for Europe. However, we can also consider whether we can give something back. The Dutch are currently discussing this. And we will also have this discussion after the Bundestag elections.

This is good news for David Cameron, whose plan to renegotiate British EU membership is more ambitious than many people realise, as I wrote last month.

Merkel’s words were deliberate: Oliver Wright and Tim Shipman reported that she had sent an emissary to talk to Conservative MPs about the renegotiation.

Today’s front-page lead for The Times (pictured; pay wall) is further evidence of No 10’s confidence. But this is just the start. I understand that Cameron believes he can get more than simply asserting national rights to decide benefits for non-residents, which is what this story is about: the question on which the European Commission has gone to the European Court of Justice. Cameron hopes to rewrite the founding treaties to allow (unspecified) curbs on the “free movement of workers”, including those not claiming benefits.

Which raises the fundamental question. As Shipman reports, a source in Berlin said Merkel was not in favour of “re-opening existing treaties”. That will surely change after the German elections next month.

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  • greggf

    “……the question on which the European Commission has gone to the European Court of Justice.”

    The basis of the EU’s argument seems to be that the UK should apply the same rules on Benefits etc., for EU migrants as it does for its own nationals – broadly that an established UK address is the passport.
    Whereas, for example, in France such a passport would be evidence of appropriate contributions.
    Thus the EU believes it has the competence to “supervise” national governments and/or get the ECJ to effectively by-pass Parliament were it necessary.

    For the EU to possess such a competence seems to be arguable.

  • Hill244

    Same European Courts that made his stomach turn over prisoners rights? Same ones that made the National DNA database illegal but he ignored? Just checking.

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