Coffee House

Merkel makes it clear: no special status for Britain in the EU

27 February 2014

2:28 PM

27 February 2014

2:28 PM

Angela Merkel’s speech today didn’t close doors on EU reform but nor did it open as many as some close to Cameron had hoped that it would. As the German Chancellor made clear at the start of her speech, she didn’t want to say either that Britain could have what it wanted from the renegotiation or that Britain could have nothing.

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The German Chancellor talked of the need for a more competitive EU, suggested that she might be open to some changes on freedom of movement and offered the vaguest hint of possible treaty change. But, on the other hand, she made clear that reform in Europe would happen ‘step by step’ not in a big bang, in other words don’t expect the EU to look radically different by Cameron’s 2017 referendum date. She was also made it quite obvious that she wasn’t interested in any kind of special status for Britain inside the EU.

David Cameron’s life would be made easier if Merkel had been more emphatic about her willingness to address British concerns. But today was a reminder that Merkel, a canny political player, doesn’t intend to give-away more than she needs to at any one time. ​


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  • Adam2014

    anyone with sense would not vote LibLabCon now, I also don’t take kindly for Our Country to be lectured by Germany if they think We would roll over like Greece has done in defiance to the disgusting dictats imposed by Brussels, then they are fools http://www.thisisourland.info

    • timinsingapore

      Maybe we were listening to different speeches – I don’t recall any point where Merkel was asking us to roll over about anything. And any lecturing by Germany pales into insignificance compared to the amount of lecturing of Europe emanating from our own shores, some of it justified, a lot of it nationalistic nonsense detached from current or historical reality.

  • timinsingapore

    ‘The shortfall of cash’ is not that significant in the context of either the UK’s or Germany’s national budget, and the idea that it’s a factor in Merkel’s stance is a joke.
    None of the UKIP zealots in these comment columns ever explain why, having exited the EU, Britain’s exporting industries will suddenly bestride the world in glory, when they have failed to do so hitherto; why EU membership is an impediment for British industry when it is clearly not for German industry; and what the British economy is going to do post-exit when all those inward investors bugger off – such as the car manufacturers who have used Britain as a base within the EU.
    Cameron has made a massive miscalculation by not standing up to the Basil Fawlty tendency in his party. We may all live to reap the consequences.
    Presumably all those opponents of free movement within the Union will happily see British migrants (about a million, did I read?) repatriated from Spain, Portugal, Italy, not to mention the choicest bits of rural France. Or maybe not.

  • Conway

    Merkel will only have her own and Germany’s interests at heart. She has no interest at all in the UK, except inasmuch as she wants to keep us in the EU because if we left, Germany would have to make up the shortfall of cash.

  • Makroon

    The strangest aspect of Merkel’s speech was, that as “an honoured guest invited to address both houses of parliament and meet the queen”, she refused to say anything about the Anglo-German relationship, it’s history, present status, prognosis, current warmth or lack thereof.
    As an eastern survivor, Merkel has zero understanding or sympathy for the pre 20th century close Anglo-German relationship (I wonder if HM reminded her that ‘the family’ are from Sachsen Coburg und Gotha/Saalfeld).
    We were told there is no Germany except as a function of the EU – so, no cosy relationships with Cameron, or anyone else.
    France is the indispensable and willing shield, behind which, mercantilist German commerce works for Euro-hegemony. Merkel and co. are just the enablers.
    For Merkel, “competition” has nothing to do with free enterprises competing in world markets, it is all about marshalling state power through the medium of the EU to support the national commerce.
    Conservative governments have been trying for ever to split or weaken the Franco-German death-lock, but it will never happen.
    Unfortunately, we have to stay in, to protect our interests, and (hopefully) cause some trouble. Leaving would just leave us as a sitting duck. But no more Douglas Hurdian illusions please !

    • Conway

      If we stay in we most certainly will not be protecting our interests! The Midlands’ economic growth is about 7% and it’s in manufacturing/production and exports. Lord Digby Jones pointed out that it’s exports to emerging markets and specifically mentioned Brazil, India and China. None of these is in the EU.

      • Makroon

        That is all good stuff, but the EU still accounts for over 40% of exports and there are many in the EU who long for the chance to bring the City of London to it’s knees.

        • Tony_E

          Firstly, the City can only be brought to its knees from a position of EU membership. Once outside, the EU can try to keep Euro trades out of London but that’s about it. They will probably even find that difficult. It will be regulation that hobbles the city, the kind designed purposely and spitefully to do so. British governments acting independently of Brussels would not be so foolish.

          Secondly, there is an issue with the 40% trade figure which is often trotted out. Firstly, even if it were true, (and with the restrictions still in place on services the single market works much more in favour of say Germany than Britain), the mainland EU countries send more physical goods to Britain than we send to it – they would not want to lose this trade any more than we would. So tariff negotiations would be complex but not impossible. The trick would be to avoid particular protecionisms over certain goods that would disadvantage us particularly. But we already have that in services, and that does disproportionately disadvantage the UK from inside the EU.

          But lastly, the 40% figure includes finished goods re-exported through EU ports, even where the customer on the invoice is not inside the EU and the container is never re=opened in EU terrirory, so the figure is potentially misleading in itself (but by how much I don’t know, maybe not a significant amount, but it’s distortion in the stats that is rarely highlighted).

          • Makroon

            Britain is an open economy. If we left the EU, there is zero prospect of British households and businesses refusing to buy EU produced goods because Nigel Farage is piqued.
            All of those Mercs, BMWs and VWs would just keep rolling in, together with the cheapo crap from France.
            On the other hand, our businesses would face “severe regulatory head winds” and endless wrangles in the WTO (notice how the Euro2.7B of direct aid to Peugeot-Citroen, was just waved through ?).
            For Britain to retaliate, would just undermine our status as one of the world’s most open economies.
            I know UKIP imagine the economy could be run by command, according to their petty prejudices, “turning back the tide of globalisation” etc etc, but in the real world that won’t happen.

      • timinsingapore

        How does leaving the EU enhance our prospects of trade with Brazil, India, or China? Interest in Britain in Asia is substantially related to our continued membership of the EU – Britain in isolation would be largely disregarded. Forget ‘historic ties’, many of which work to Britain’s disadvantage.

  • Lady Magdalene

    Churchill supported the idea of a European Union …. but with the UK outside it.

    “We have our own dream and our own task. We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked but not combined. We are interested and associated but not absorbed.”

    It’s about time the Conservative Party followed Churchill’s blueprint.
    Until they do …. UKIP will continue to grow.

    • Doggie Roussel

      And UKIP need to stress that they are following Churchillian advice !

  • @PhilKean1

    .
    The auto-censor is too rigid.

    And does anyone EVER look at the comments that are alleged to be awaiting moderation?
    .

  • Two Bob

    Then we must leave.

  • Alexandrovich

    What stuck in my craw was the nodding Nick Clegg and the general fawning. Seeing Hague, Alexander and the rest of them with their headphones on made me think it was some surreal reversal of the Nuremburg Trials.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Well, to continue on with the surrealism, Dave should have got up with his prepared statement, walked over to a microphone to deliver it, but Frau Merkel waving him off as out of bounds in the proceedings, at which point he’d mawkishly fold up his paper and skulk back to his seat.

      • Doggie Roussel

        if only !

    • Doggie Roussel

      Yes, quite agree about the Nuremburg similarities…. Hague looked rather like Hess trying to morph into Goering…

      Nuremburg’s climax and outcome is something one could happily wish on many of today’s front benches.

    • Rockin Ron

      For goodness sake, don’t mention the war!

  • Smithersjones2013

    Yet Cameron will continue to peddle his cheap lies about a referendum. He has become as untrustworthy a figure as Blair. Unlike Blair though, Cameron’s legacy will be to look as pathetic as Chamberlain……

    • Fergus Pickering

      And what is Blair’s legacy? A lot of dead people I suppose.

    • KestrelSprite

      Blair’s lasting legacy is the huge number of immigrants allowed in.

      • Kitty MLB

        Another of Blair’s legacy’s is destroying our education system,
        leaving many of our young people unfit for work so therefore
        creating the benefit culture.

    • George_Arseborne

      There is no need for Cameron to lie. Merkel knows well that in 14 months time she will be discuss serious issues with Ed Milliband, so why boarder with a clown like Cameron whom cannot lead his MP.

  • Kitty MLB

    Well someone at least is being honest, thank you Mrs Merkel.
    The EU is not and never will be in Britain’ s best interest,
    its about one union in an iron grip and not about individual countries,
    whilst we remain one of the main piggybanks, have the EU control
    us and have no say in unlimited immigration, Merkel once said
    if we want something back then all countries will and she did not want that.
    Cameron says he will make this new EU work for us, that cannot be possible,
    this new reformed EU, with Northern countries taking control, deeper
    and deeper into the union, we must only hope it completely breaks down.
    As for this fig Leaf referendum in the far distant future ( assuming Cameron gets his unlikely majority)
    THe entire leftie establishment in this country,is against us Leaving,
    all our politicians are against it, and it will not be a fair referendum because
    f that.

  • Doggie Roussel

    Great news !

    Rosa Merkel Klebb has given her little blue-rinsed poodle, Cameron, a very straightforward and unqualified NEIN.

    This must be music to the ears of UKIP and Farage and is hopefully another nail in Dave’s political coffin.

  • HookesLaw

    How Europe looks by 2017 is not the point, it will be what it is and for good or bad by 2017 we will have to take a look and take a vote. Assuming there is a conservative govt that is. The reality might be that we are in the EEA instead. But come 2017 what we must not buy into is what Salmond is offering Scotland – a pig in a poke.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      The only way there can be a conservative govt is if you Camerluvvies smarten up, and don’t split the UKIP vote.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Ah! So Nige will be PM eh? That would be fun, I grant you.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          That’s the thing though. When revolution comes, it’s not about who leads the revolution, it’s about who’s in power after the revolution. It’s rarely the same guy.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Well, I don’t know. It was Leninn wasn’t it?

            • Rockin Ron

              Trotsky then Lenin – thus making the Viceroy’s point.

  • London Calling

    Cant say I’m surprised….it was to be expected….no one can release the claws of the beast and we should no better than to even try, although try we must….The more power we give away the weaker we become……sadly I don’t see a future referendum considering the EU is so entrenched in our veins and the general public are oblivious to it all…….the creeper will continue to creep and will suck the life out of us, mark my words………………:(

    • London Calling

      Hello James……:)

  • dalai guevara

    “(Collectively) rejoicing the collapse of Socialism!”
    Fruitcakes take note…

  • Nicholas chuzzlewit

    Dear Mrs Merkel, Thank you for showing at least a modicum of honesty in ruling out any major concessions to Britain should it wish to renegotiate the terms of its EU membership. I note that you remain happy for the EU to keep taking our money to subsidise its various basket cases while you continue to sell said basket cases the produce of German manufacturing etc. Let us hope we can return the favour one day when you might actually need our help. The hopes of the people of Britain now rest with one of our untrustworthy, elitist, greedy and stupid politicians allowing us to have our say in an ‘in or out’ referendum. I suspect few of us will be holding our breath on that account becausae the leaders of the Labour and Lib Dem parties both loathe democracy and freedom of speech and are both eager to enhance their standings as members of the privileged elite of Europe. The Conservative leader is little better but is at least promising a referendum in 2017 if re-elected in 2015. This is probably a chimera because our voting system is hopelessly biased towards the Labour party and that corrupt group of vermin will probably be busy ruining the economy again by June 2015. Safe trip back to Germany and good luck with the continued economic domination of Europe. Nice to know we are helping you achieve your goals.

    • HookesLaw

      I don’t quite see what your point is. We have as much opportunity to sell stuff as the Germans. We are not in the Euro – are you suggesting we should be??
      We have been rich recepients of inward investment to the EU, many of the many cars we build are exported tho Europe. As new countries to the EU gain in wealth we can sell more to them. Is growth and democracy and stability ion say poland not a good tbhiong for Britain?

      There is no reason why we cannot have a Conservatiove victory in 2015. UKIP robbed the tories of a number of seats and they only need something like a dozen additional seats to gain a majority. Only idiots voting for an Arfur Daley wanabee (‘When I looked Farage in the eyes, eyeball to eyeball, I felt this was a person I could not trust and do business with.’) could logically prevent it.

      • Smithersjones2013

        And here we go again. Back to the Twilight Zone repeats.

        do-do-do-do, do-do-do-do

        • the viceroy’s gin

          This could be the end of Dave. To this point, he’s been able to skate around everything else, but if he’s caught out lying about immigration numbers, while allowing Merkel in to deliver her instructions as to what she wants her subjects to deliver, then it may very well be the end of Dave. There’s no purpose to him, at that point.

          • Fergus Pickering

            OK. It’s the end of Dave. What next? Millibum?

            • Kitty MLB

              Well yes, to kill two birds with one stone.

              • Fergus Pickering

                You want to KILL Millibum? That’s a bit extreme.

                • Kitty MLB

                  KILL Milibum metaphorically speaking as you
                  know full well, Clever Clogs/ Smarty Pants.

            • James Strong

              The end of Dave could bring a new Conservative leader.
              Then a Conservative Bill to have a refrendum now. It would be defeated by the votes of LibDem and Labout MPs.
              Clear blue water going into an election campaign with the Conservative Party holding to its in/out referendum promise. I would bet a significant sum on a substantial Conservative victory in that case, except that it would be so obvious the odds would be prohibitive.

              • Kitty MLB

                A new Conservative leader will be like the return
                of odysseus to Penelope ( the UK) who has
                spent years dealing with unwanted guests, eating and
                drinking and taking advantage of her ( Cameroons)
                Who though will be Argos the faithful dog who recognised
                the new leader? whoever he maybe.

            • Doggie Roussel

              NO… it’s quite obvious… it’s UKIP !!!!!!!!

              • Fergus Pickering

                Of course it isn’t. Nige could win 25% of the vote and be leftwithout a single seat. Still, I shall vote for him and put up with ten more years of Labour.

                • Kitty MLB

                  Well thats the crux of the matter (seats!)
                  UKIP are encouraging,and patriotic,
                  Yet are still growing.
                  For Conservatives it will be a case of
                  the lesser of two evils.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  I hope you are right.

              • Tony_E

                Doggie, as much as many of us might sympathise with the aim of leaving the EU, you have got to realise that UKIP will gain NO SEATS at all at the next general election under current voting projections.

                This is because they are not a true political party – they are simply a receptacle of protest for most. What economic policies do they have? What social policies do they have? How would they control expenditure, welfare, defence, environment? What would they do in the field of Foreign affairs, civil service reform, education, employment law, financial regulation?

                They went into 2010 with a manifesto which was little more than scribbles on bog roll, a worthless document of unachievable wishes (rather like the Lib Dems but they knew they wouldn’t have to honour it, the LDs just took the chance that they wouldn’t).

                There is one choice coming in 2015 – Miliband or Cameron. Vote anything other than Conservative and you are simply choosing Miliband.

      • Lady Magdalene

        Growth, Democracy, Sovereignty, Habeas Corpus in the UK is vastly more important than anything you mention.

      • Tony_E

        We have as much opportunity to sell stuff as the Germans

        Not really. Land borders assist with the costs of transportation. Germany’s rate of Euro entry also helped them as it masked their true economic strength and gave them a competitive advantage. By the time of the Euro collapse, Germany had a decade to entrench itself as the dominant member of the Eurozone, building on its domination of the monetary snake that preceded it (and was a proven disaster for France before it shook us out).

        But also, the Single Market in services has never been completed. This is deliberate protectionism by the Germans and French because Britain has a particularly strong services sector and neither country ever thought it in their interests to allow the Brits into their domestic economies in this way.

    • Kitty MLB

      Wholeheartedly agree Nicholas.
      If the referendum promise were true it would be at the end of this parliament.
      Cameron knows he will not be re elected, apparently his little older
      daughter said last year to someone that her daddy said we should
      enjoy chequers as we will not be here for long.
      Its all about personal gain and career politics instead of duty,
      and its nice to know how Merkel thinks of one of her biggest piggy banks.

  • Noa

    It’s all academic. Cameron will not be prime minister in 2017 and there will be no referendum.
    However Frau Merkel’s speech is best consdered as one further step on the route to Brexit.

  • Altesegel

    Good for Angela; consider Ukraine and Iran. Europe faces an invasion by Russia and a nuclear attack by ‘slamic radials in Persia. Our best policy for facing future threats is to unite and develop Europe as a pro-Christian, pro-business continent wide country.

    • HookesLaw

      Thicko

    • Doggie Roussel

      How do you achieve that with all the thieves, poltroons and nincompoops in Brussels….

      Do you really imagine that the unelected dross and jetsam, like Van Rompuuy, Ashton or Baroso have the balls or intellect to stand up to the likes of hard-nosed realists like Putin or any of the homicidal and self-serving maniacs and tyrants in the Middle East.

      The only interest of those thieves and embezzlers in Belgium is the lining of their own pockets.

      Reflect on the calibre of some of the people we have sent to Brussels: Kinnock x 3, Baroness Ashton, Leon Brittan etc and tell me that you are prepared to stake the future of this country on these failed politicians and self-serving opportunists.

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