• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
'It is a fair deal': Merkel defends EU-British accord
Photo: DPA

'It is a fair deal': Merkel defends EU-British accord

AFP · 20 Feb 2016, 11:45

Published: 20 Feb 2016 11:45 GMT+01:00

"I do not think that we gave too much to Great Britain," she said.

British Prime Minister, David Cameron on Saturday embarked on a daunting challenge to persuade ministers in his own cabinet and the country at large to vote for Britain to stay in the European Union.

After a cabinet meeting, Cameron announced the date - June 23rd - for a membership referendum after striking a deal in Brussels that gives Britain special concessions.

The announcement of the date sounds the launch of a campaign that will be bitterly contested, with opinion polls showing Britons fiercely divided on the question and the media pouring cold water on Cameron's claims to have won substantial concessions from his EU peers.

Following the cabinet meeting, ministers who want Britain to become the first member state to leave the EU will be allowed to speak out for the first time.

Justice minister Michael Gove is expected to be one of around five or six ministers who will declare their support for a British EU exit or "Brexit".

Much of the political suspense is over whether Mayor of London Boris Johnson, a popular politician from Cameron's Conservative Party, will join them.

"I will be campaigning with all my heart and soul to persuade the British people to remain in the reformed European Union that we have secured today," Cameron told a press conference on Friday evening.

He said the deal contained a seven-year "emergency brake" on welfare payments for EU migrants and meant Britain would be "permanently out of ever closer union" -- one of the EU's key objectives.

But Britain's predominantly right-wing newspapers reacted sceptically.

"Cameron's Climbdown," read a headline on the Daily Express website, while the Daily Mail said: "Call that a Deal, Dave?"

The Daily Telegraph said Cameron had made "puny gains" and The Times called it "Thin Gruel".

"From the land of chocolate, David Cameron was always destined to bring back fudge," said The Times, which dismissed Cameron's drawn-out negotiations with fellow European leaders as "ill-disguised theatrics".

He "has little choice now but to resort to the old argument that Britain's interests are best served by trying to reform Europe from the inside rather than submitting to the unknown rigours of full independence" an editorial said.

"He faces an uphill struggle making it."

But the left-leaning Guardian daily said the deal was "a practical package" and "cannot be dismissed as a charade".

The paper said it supported Britain staying in the EU "come what may", urging undecided voters to examine the agreed reforms "very seriously indeed".

- 'Depressingly negative campaign' -

The drama is only just beginning for Cameron, as he battles not only a hostile press but also eurosceptic members of his own Conservative party.

Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore predicted: "From now on... the internal pains of the Tory party on this subject will be brought into the open."

Anand Menon, professor of European politics at King's College London, said he expected both sides to emphasise the risks of either leaving or sticking with the status quo.

"This is going to be a depressingly negative campaign," he told AFP.

Cameron will on Monday address parliament, which formally has to approve the date for the vote.

This will be Britain's second referendum on European membership in just over 30 years.

Story continues below…

In June 1975, voters backed membership of the then European Economic Community (EEC) by just over 67 percent.

French President Francois Hollande said the package gave London no special favours and broke no EU rules.

"There are no exceptions to the rules," Hollande said

But Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi warned "there is a risk of us losing sight of the original European dream".

During negotiations, France and Belgium strongly resisted safeguards for countries that do not use the euro.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said the deal would give Britain no power of veto over the eurozone.

Britain and other "euro-outs" will, however, be able to raise concerns about eurozone policies at the level of EU summits.

 

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Today's headlines
Lion shot dead at Leipzig Zoo after breaking out of cage
Motshegetsi (l) und Majo. Photo: DPA

A young male lion was shot dead at Leipzig Zoo on Thursday afternoon after he broke out of his enclosure.

EU takes Germany to court for 'discriminatory' foreigner toll
A sign that reads "toll" along the Autobahn by Rostock. Photo: DPA.

The European Commission on Thursday said it is taking Germany to the EU Court of Justice because of the country's plan to impose a road toll that would mainly charge foreign drivers.

After 3-year trial, suspected neo-Nazi terrorist speaks out
Beate Zschäpe. Photo: DPA

Beate Zschäpe, the only living member of an underground neo-Nazi cell accused of murdering ten people, has spoken to the court in Munich after three years of silence.

Green party wants only e-cars on Autobahn by 2030
Photo: DPA.

The environmentalist Green party has an ambitious plan for German cars to be petrol- and diesel-free within the next 15 years.

Commerzbank to make one in five staff redundant by 2020
Photo: DPA

Germany's second largest lender Commerzbank said on Thursday it plans to cut 9,600 jobs by 2020 and withhold dividends to pay for a €1.1 billion restructuring.

Germany's favourite smoker wins battle against eviction
Photo: DPA

How a pensioner with a serious smoking habit won a years-long fight for his right to keep his home - and his favourite pastime.

Thousands evacuated after WWII bomb found in Cologne
File photo of a Second World War bomb: DPA

Several thousands people were being evacuated from a district of Cologne just north of the old town on Thursday morning, after a Second World War bomb was found in a parking lot.

Kidnapped German journalist and her baby freed in Syria
File photo of a Syrian soldier: SANA/DPA.

A German woman who was kidnapped in Syria last year while she was pregnant has been freed along with her baby, the German Foreign Office said on Wednesday.

Air Berlin to cut 1,200 jobs and halve airline fleet
Photo: DPA.

Struggling Air Berlin, Germany's second-largest airline, announced on Wednesday a major restructuring plan that shrinks its fleet and cuts 1,200 jobs.

Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
Photo: Thomas Wolf/Wikimedia Commons.

From stunning chalk-white cliffs to fairy tale castles, Germany has some breathtaking sights to see, perfect for social media.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
Lifestyle
10 German films you have to watch before you die
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
6,623
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd