Merkel doesn't rule out treaty change as Britain urges EU reform
BERLIN - Agence France-Presse
REUTERS PhotoGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 29 pledged a "constructive" role as Britain pushed for EU reforms and said she would not rule out changing treaties of the 28-nation community.
"Of course when you are convinced of an idea, you cannot say that treaty change is a total impossibility," she said at a Berlin joint news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Cameron, after his second-term election win this month, vowed to push strongly for EU reforms and "a better deal for Britain" ahead of an "in-out" referendum on EU membership by 2017.
He was in Berlin as part of a European whistlestop tour to push for reforms, including stricter requirements for EU migrants to claim British social welfare benefits, and for London to be able to opt out of a commitment to "ever closer union".
Merkel stressed that "on the German side there is a clear hope -- and of course this will be decided by the British people -- that Britain will stay on as a member of the European Union".
She said Berlin and London saw eye-to-eye in many fields, such as on the need to cut EU red tape, and that she was confident both sides could reach agreements because "where there is a will, there is a way".
She said their talks Friday had been "constructive, productive and friendly" and that "we want to play a constructive role as Britain embarks on its process towards a referendum and the changes regarding its membership of the European Union".
On the issue of preventing EU migrants from abusing state welfare systems, she said change "may also be in Germany's interest", and that Germany was now closely watching European court cases on the issue.
Cameron said that "today was an opportunity to really get down to business and to work through each issue", adding that "of course there is no magic quick solution" to the bundle of issues under discussion.
He added that "the European Union has shown before that when one of its member states has a problem that needs sorting out, it can be flexible enough to do so, and I have every confidence that it will do so again".