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Berlin wants UK in EU but rejects cherry-picking

The Local · 23 Jan 2013, 15:38

Published: 23 Jan 2013 12:22 GMT+01:00
Updated: 23 Jan 2013 15:38 GMT+01:00

"Germany wants the United Kingdom to remain an active and constructive part of the European Union," Westerwelle said, in reaction to the British prime minister's keenly awaited speech Wednesday.

He said Germany, as the driving force behind new initiatives for greater European economic policy coordination to beat the eurozone debt turmoil, believed such reforms were in the interest of all.

"We strive to create a better Europe, the European Union becoming even stronger with overcoming the debt crisis and regaining global competitiveness," he told reporters in a statement given first in German, then in English.

"Germany wants an ambitious reform of the economic and monetary union. In such decisive issues as the future of the common currency, we do not need less but more integration."

But addressing British fears, he said Berlin was not calling for a sacrifice of all national sovereignty. However he insisted EU membership was an all-or-nothing proposition.

"We share the vision of a better Europe. We need a new commitment to the principle of subsidiarity. Not all and everything must be decided in Brussels and by Brussels," he said.

"We do indeed differentiate but cherry-picking is not an option. We share a common destiny in challenging times of globalisation. And in challenging times of globalisation, we as Europeans, we are all in the same boat."

But Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that Germany was ready to discuss Britain's "wishes" on the EU after Cameron announced his intention to hold a referendum.

Merkel said that intensive talks would be held with Britain about its ideas but that every member of the European Union had their own interests and Europe meant always having to find a "fair compromise".

"Europe also always means that you have to find fair compromises," she told a joint press conference with visiting African Union President Thomas Boni Yayi, who is also the president of Benin.

"In this context, we are of course ready also to talk about British wishes but one must keep in mind that other countries also have other wishes and we must in the end always find a compromise," she said. "Therefore we will speak very intensively with Britain about its ideas."


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

14:27 January 23, 2013 by McM
Aurrrrgh, didums wincy wee Germany feel uncumfy with those brash Brittons having their own opinion on things. Auuurgh!
14:41 January 23, 2013 by chicagolive
The issue is not national sovereignty as they keep trying to play it. The issues many British MPs have and other countries now in the EU. Is that Germany is calling all the shots and not Brussels, it is Germany's EU not just the EU, this is the issue many have, and the financial crisis is what put the light on this. When Germany went through the same issues as the PIIGS they ignored warnings, threats, and fines. Pretty much telling everybody else in the EU to stuff it. Now that other countries which they helped put in their bad positions by shifting their own debt. Have the same issues all of a sudden its the rules shall not be broken who do you think you are telling us no.
15:09 January 23, 2013 by michael4096
@McM - so you see Germany as the one threatening to throw its toys out of the pram? Really?
15:11 January 23, 2013 by DavyCrockett
The only difference between Mr Cameron and Herr Westerwelle is that the former is heterosexual: otherwise, they are both a pair of clueless wimps who are desperate to hold on to their jobs. Cameron's sudden macho outburst has nothing to do with his belief in Britain in or out the EU; he has been forced to act because of the pressures of the newly powerful anti-EU UKIP party, his own rebel back-benchers, and the thought of losing the next election (again). If he had the slightest interest in achieving anything, he would call a referendum BEFORE the next general election, there is no reason not to. But it's difficult to imagine that the madmen of Brussels will go along with Cameron's proposals if we get so far, they are all hell bent on creating a United States of Europe, God help us. Whatever happens, the EU in its present form is a failure and is doomed to collapse sooner or later, let''s just hope we can lynch the guilty when it happens.
15:27 January 23, 2013 by michael4096
@DavyCrockett - "...the madmen of Brussels ... are all hell bent on creating a United States of Europe..."

Er... The 'madmen of Brussels' cannot do anything unless they get a mandate from Cameron and the other elected leaders. It is not Brussels that Cameron faces but his counterparts in the other 26 countries.
16:23 January 23, 2013 by Brint
Great Britain is now Germany's largest global trading partner, with Britain increasing its exports to Germany by 20% in the first three quarters of last year, so simply from an economic standpoint I can't see either country wanting any of that to disappear, whatever happens to our membership within the EU.
17:18 January 23, 2013 by McM
Home and away politics and no matter what happens with Sargent Shultz ,er ,el EU president's cat herding shortcomings , trade will govern and the smart money will still hang out in London.
17:18 January 23, 2013 by Kennneth Ingle
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle is not mister Europe and much of what he says is Mumpits. Berlin and Paris are not Europe, even though Germany pays most of the bills. They are just two countries from many. It is therefore quite in order for Cameron to have a different opinion. What is wrong however, is that pro-European British citizens living on the continent, have no right to vote for their point of view where British policies are concerned. Every European citizen should have the right to vote for national government within the union, either that of his homeland, or where he/she has a place of residence. Why must British Pro-Europeans have less rights, than people who are not prepared to fully integrate?
17:18 January 23, 2013 by Steve Potts
The majority of people in the UK voted to join a 'Common Market' not a corrupt bureacratic superstate governed by unelected officials. People in the UK are simply horrified by expected influx of Bulgarians and Romanians that will have the right to settle in the UK come January 2014 and like some other countries outside the Eurozone will want to repatriate powers. This will happen or the UK will leave the EU. Because there is an inbalance in trade between the EU and UK we will cherry pick or leave the EU as the rest of Europe will still want to trade freely with us and will quickly reach free trade agreements. It's a win win situation
17:42 January 23, 2013 by kbrauneis
"are simply horrified by expected influx of Bulgarians and Romanians that will have the right to settle in the UK come January 2014 " and not so horrified by all akk the other imigrants that settled in UK?? . ( indians pakistani.. etc)

The british can leave the EU. Fine... but I would like to see how they will react when their goods have to pay heftier import duties since they are not part of the EU. So that 20% they currently export to Germany will shrink fast!

Some may ask why it seems that Germany is calling the shots... well its mainly due to money.
18:05 January 23, 2013 by Steve Potts
All states can impose 'hefty import duties'. The UK will end up with a free trade agreement with the EU just like the Swiss. The UK will not be able to cope with a sudden influx of migrant workers - many areas are at tipping point.
18:07 January 23, 2013 by Brint

'but I would like to see how they will react when their goods have to pay heftier import duties since they are not part of the EU.'

However as I've already pointed out, the UK is now Germany's 'biggest global' trading partner, according to yesterday's Telegraph - "It is one of the fastest growing trade relationships in the developed world. France lagged behind at €150bn as trade stagnated, with the US at €149bn and China at €115bn." - in Germany's favour, so I don't somehow see the Germans wanting to get into a game of tit for tat trade embargoes, in fact the telegraph is reporting - "Angela Merkel: we will seek EU compromise with Britain."

"Germany is ready to listen to Britain's "wishes" over the EU and will help find a compromise to stop it heading for the exit door, Angela Merkel has said."
19:05 January 23, 2013 by ChrisRea
Is there any European politician that reacted positively to Mr. Cameron's threat? The French were the funniest ("... but you can't do Europe a la carte", "Imagine Europe is a football club and you join, but once you're in it you can't say, 'Let's play rugby'."). Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt pointed out that "a flexible Europe" already exists and his country is good example (due to its EU-opt outs), so Europe should not be a "help-yourself table". Former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt Austrian stood up against Cameron's "holding the EU to ransom" and slapped the British Prime Minister for not knowing the EU mechanisms. Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger's reaction was in line with the other European politicians. Even the US said that it is a bad idea for UK to get out of the EU.

I think DavyCrockett is right. His opinion is shared also by Labour leader Ed Miliband, who caracterised Mr. Cameron "as a weak prime minister, being driven by his party, not by the national economic interest ... The only thing that has changed since then (October 2011 - my note) is he has lost control of his party and is too weak to do what is right for the country" .

@ Steve Potts

"People in the UK are simply horrified by expected influx of Bulgarians and Romanians that will have the right to settle in the UK come January 2014" - Nothing new. Before May 2011 Germans were terrified by the huge wave of immigrants from 8, not 2 countries (Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, and Hungary). What happened? Nothing really, it was a matter of only couple of thousands. Which actually, in my opinion, helped Germany.
19:05 January 23, 2013 by Englishted
I know let talk about a speech that has not happened yet .

Or we can talk about a vote that may or may not come about in the future ,

what is this a clairvoyance convention?
19:20 January 23, 2013 by jmclewis
The UK is not a big manufacture of goods like Germany so it has little to gain in staying other than the import of goods at lesser price. The UK's money is in money management. So when the the UK tax payer pays the the EU bill to all the useless politicians in Brussels and all the nonworking immigrants. If the UK was smart they would already be out and starting a competing trade union with former colonies something like UK, Canada, Australia, India, Pakistan with this group the only downside is high food prices for goods from EU.
19:24 January 23, 2013 by gorongoza
The simple question is who in UK, Germany or France want the EU as it is today?

Cameroon is reacting to the situation on the ground, the reality,which the people in the countries I mentioned above are facing. Ordinary people who are directly affected (negatively,I am sorry to say this) Cameroon`s sermon is long over due. They however see hope because at last one of the leaders who may put an end to their murmurings has came out to cash-talk.

Why should they suffer in silence for the name of EU?

For those of you who opt to sweep the problems with the EU under the carpet put on your protective gear on - now the time-bomb is ticking.
20:13 January 23, 2013 by Steve Potts
@Chris Rae

' A couple of thousands'

Well, the UK received about a million Poles in this wave and about half to 2/3 rds are still in the UK. I agree that the vast majority of the Poles do make a positive contribution to the UK economy and are hard working. The problem I'm trying to highlight is that the UK just cannot cope with large influxes of people and most Romanians and Bulgarians have 'English' not German or French as their second language so guess where they will be headed?
20:19 January 23, 2013 by Berlin fuer alles
"he said Berlin was not calling for a sacrifice of all national sovereignty. However he insisted EU membership was an all-or-nothing proposition."

Really? So why not explain to the German electorate how wrong BILD have got things? The Greeks do have the right to complain and demonstrate.
20:36 January 23, 2013 by Bigfoot76
How many countries in the EU do NOT use the Euro as its currency and why?
21:05 January 23, 2013 by Enough
Everytime I ask a citizen of the EU how one becomes a EU bureocrat, I get either a different answer or the I don't know answer. This is extremly scary....these people are not held accountable to anyone not even voters, but yet they are impacting everyone's lives with all kinds of silly regulations.
21:30 January 23, 2013 by ChrisRea
@ Steve Potts

I agree that the Romanians have probably the highest rate of non-native English speakers. However, the similar situation was with Germany and A8 countries. I remember trying to get information at the Information office within the main railway station in Budapest some 10 years ago. It did not work. The lady there spoke however German. In spite of language popularity, immigrants from A8 counties did not flooded Germany.

@ Enough

"these people are not held accountable to anyone not even voters" - Maybe you lack some information. For example, have you not heard of Ernst Strasser? The former European MP had to resign and now is doing 4 years jail time for what he had done during his term.
21:37 January 23, 2013 by Steve1949
@ChrisRea.......Well if the US thinks that the UK shouldn't leave the EU then then the UK should definitely leave. The Americans haven't been doing anything right for many years not and certainly not a country to take advice from.
21:49 January 23, 2013 by andreiwl
@ Steve Potts

The Romanians are comming, oh lord... what is I gonna do... oh lord.

Why did they allowed this countries to join in the first place, if they didn't want to them, if they are so bad? They really don't get anthing in return? It was just out of the kindness of their hart?

Maybe Mr. Robert Schuman can help you:

"Our century, that has witnessed the catastrophes resulting in the unending clash of nationalities and nationalisms, must attempt and succeed in reconciling nations in a supranational association. This would safeguard the diversities and aspirations of each nation while coordinating them in the same manner as the regions are coordinated within the unity of the nation."

And you whould be surprised how many of us speak French and German as a second language.

Have a nice day,

22:28 January 23, 2013 by Tonne
So Cameron has painted himself into a corner by failing to do the only thing Eton and Oxford should have taught him: how to lead. Instead, he has allowed himself to be pushed around and bullied by his Europhobic backbenchers and scared by the bogeyman of Farage. And he has given away any negotiating strategy he might have had by exposing his aims and the date by which he needs to achieve them. His only hope now is that nanny Merkel will come to his rescue and help to wash his dummy and put away his toys.

I am sure that, if the UK should leave the EU, the countries who remain in the EU will still want to trade with us, just as they want to trade with the US, China and the rest of the developed and developing world. The UK could have trading agreements with the EU like Switzerland, who has free access to the EU for certain goods and services, provided they adopt the regulations applicable to the production of those goods and services. But, of course, they would have no say in the formulation of such legislation.

On the other hand, there is a good chance that those international non-EU companies who have invested in the UK have done so partly because the UK is in the EU and partly because they understand the language. With the uncertainty that Cameron has caused, such companies may now reconsider their strategy and decide to transfer their UK operations to Poland or one of the Baltic states, where labour costs are lower.

It seems strange to me that people who have moved to work in Germany, with no or little German, should think that this would deter others from doing the same thing. In my experience, many of the Poles who came to work in the UK had little or no English. I have sat in a site induction where there were a dozen Poles of whom only one could understand what was being said to them and who had to translate for the others.
02:18 January 24, 2013 by vossy
Well although Cameron has said he will give us a referendum on EU membership IF he wins the next election, why is that? He is running scared of UKIP who have said they will take us out of the EU, we (UK) were lied to in 1956 and were always told it was a free trade agreement and since then we have been lied to on many occasions, the people here are sick and tired of being told that the EU says we cannot do this or cannot do that, the trade will continue regardless and as we are paying 63,040,449.88 EUR PER DAY to be a member, I don't reckon that even with the trade its worth being a member for.

If Cameron really cared for the UK pubic the election would be BEFORE the next election, he then has the mandate to go to the EU and say "Here we go this is what the UK people want", this game of his is all about trying to keep his job for another 5 years, all he and his privately educated chums have done is wreck the UK even more, they blame everything on the unemployed and disabled people. Shame on Cameron and the tory twits.
02:36 January 24, 2013 by jmclewis
Prediction .............. UK will will walk, The EU will drop. France will walk, Deutschland will talk.. All the other countries will vanish when the free money ends. Germany will try and collect the debt owed for the next 100 years and the excuse will be remember the holocaust and ill gotten gains during WWII.
07:07 January 24, 2013 by McM
The reforms put forward in the the speech are the real issue in the EU that will make or break it. Instead of wasting time with rubbish debates about cherry picking the sensible thing would have been to let the content for local UK politics go through to the keeper and start talking serious reform.

9 countries in the EU are not happy with the current unaccountable Brussels model and have made it public for ages via background grumbling . The fog of the Eurozone crisis has blurred the EU debate as the banking regulations have been more important to those worried about their lending gravy train than opening up a timely review on the state of the union. What would be the result of a referendum in Germany if they ever had a choice?
12:31 January 24, 2013 by lenny van
All my life I¦#39;ve been a supporter of the European Union, but after living in Germany for more than twenty years, I now support the PM¦#39;s referendum which will take Britain out. The Germans are who they are and that won¦#39;t change. If the British and the Germans are joined closer together, who will be left to save the world when the Germans strike again to rule the world?
12:53 January 24, 2013 by michael4096
I think Cameron has lost the plot in one very important way. Tilting the playing field, Europe a la carte, whatever you want to call it, only works if everybody else is playing on a equitable playing field. Once all countries are free to do as they please as he is suggesting, the UK is at a great disadvantage.

London city only attracts money because it is deregulated more than other places and can walk closest to the legal / moral edge. (Every major city bank has been penalized for cheating in the last year - and that's just where they got caught.) Now what happens if all EEA countries can deregulate to whatever standard they feel like? Why shouldn't Oslo (just an example) just cream the city's milk? Before deregulation London was not a major financial center and if the rules for everywhere are loosened, it will lose its crown.

Same story with the social regulations. If all countries are free to screw-the-workers to any extent they want, the UK will quickly and easily be at a commercial disadvantage. Europe has many countries that would be quite happy in a free for all race to the bottom, the UK can only lose.
17:56 January 24, 2013 by Englishted
@ michael4096

Have you forgotten Switzerland? their banks do o.k. without the €uro or the E.U..

Same can be said for workers right on paper Germany 's are fair but under closer look they can only be used with the backing of a lawyer and there is no legal aid ,is there anti-discrimination laws in Germany? ,jobs are often based on religion as is entry to ground schools and kindergartens .

What about the case of the rape victim and hospitals? ,sometimes the U.K. gets it right as well as wrong.

I hope the U.K. stays but I and many agree that the E.U. is corrupt and undemocratic in its present for and needs a shack up and a reality check .
11:22 January 25, 2013 by michael4096
@Englishted - Swiss banks? Exactly!

Switzerland used to be the world's banker but only because they were less regulated than elsewhere, they really walked on the wild side. Once that changed the decline began - "they do OK" is very poor compared to what they used to do.

The UK is a leader in new ways of doing things because it is very easy to start and stop major ideas there - all it takes is the right personalities behind them whereas in Germany buy-in bogs down many good ideas; although once ideas start, they have a better chance of finishing. This means many high profile failures in the UK but also many more original successes than most places.

Cameron was right about many things including who Europe's competitors will be in the next decades, that changes are needed in the EU, that this is recognized and changes are coming in a new treaty. The question we disagree on is how to achieve the goals. His tenet is that a looser organization can react quicker - the British way - and that this is obviously best so the EU must do has he says or he'll lead the UK out. This is actually not obvious at all but the silly idea that Britain has THE answer is counter-productive in the first place. Not only does THE answer not exist but it is the consensus matters not THE answer.

Though, actually, I suspect that Cameron knows all this but, in the absence of any other external threats (where is Galtieri when you need him), he must manufacture fear uncertainty and doubt about the UK's relation with Europe to swing voters in the "Scotland in the UK" referendum towards the status quo.
12:18 January 25, 2013 by mobiusro
You're all right, arabs and indians are way better than eastern europeans. Seen the news about London lately?
14:41 January 25, 2013 by Englishted

On many point we are in agreement ,but as to banking the U.K. and Switzerland are full of regulation compered with the middle and far east.

Why did not this regulation mentality help German's second largest bank? or will the job cut make it more competitive ?.

The banks need pulling into line no question but so does the common agricultural policy ,the building programs paid for by the E.U. .

The banking services are a major employer in the U.K. whereas small farms receive E.U. funding in France ,Germany and many of the less developed new members does this not seem a little unfair?

The E.U. needs major reform but nobody wants to grasp the nettle ,why two different cities for meetings the cost of moving is sky high ,yet nothing changes ,why should the budget rise unless we can see clearly where the money is spent .When will they tell us Turkey is joining (unless they don't want to ) and I said tell us not ask us ,there is no democracy within the E.U. .
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