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Cameron's Grand European Tour

Merkel On EU Reform: ‘Where There’s A Will’

WT24 Desk

Angela Merkel has indicated support for David Cameron’s requests for EU reform – even suggesting treaty change could be on the cards, Sky News reports. The German Chancellor said treaty change to enshrine the amendments the Prime Minister is calling for would not be “impossible but is going to be difficult”. However, she said when it came to EU reform: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

And she agreed there was a problem with abuse of the benefits system and said it would be in Germany’s interests to make changes in this area. Mr Cameron has promised to refuse benefits to EU migrants unless they have worked in the UK for four years but under EU freedom of movement rules all EU citizens are entitled to the benefits enjoyed by those who live there.

Earlier this week there were leaked reports that Ms Merkel and France’s Francois Hollande were drawing up plans to further integrate the Eurozone countries without treaty change.It would have dealt a blow to Mr Cameron, who had hoped to piggyback off any treaty change to include a new deal for the UK.Ahead of his meeting with Ms Merkel, Mr Cameron failed to gain backing from Poland’s leader for his planned crackdown on benefits for EU migrants.

Poland has sharply criticised the plans to refuse benefits to EU migrants unless they have worked in the UK for four years saying they are “discriminatory”.  The Prime Minister’s spokesman said while Ewa Kopacz  and Mr Cameron found “much they could agree on”, benefit restrictions had not been on of those things. They spokesman said: “On immigration and welfare, Prime Minister Kopacz welcomed the PM’s commitment to respect the principle of free movement. They agreed that there were issues concerning the interaction between free movement and national welfare systems that should be discussed further.

“Prime Minister Kopacz emphasised that Poland valued the UK’s membership of the EU and said that she hoped they could work together in a positive spirit to keep Britain in.” Mr Cameron is on the the second and final day of his two-day European diplomatic tour. On Thursday, Mr Cameron called for “flexible and imaginative” reforms in the European Union after talks with French President Mr Hollande.

Speaking after the talks in Paris, Mr Cameron said: “The status quo is not good enough and I think there are changes that can be made that can benefit not just Britain but the rest of Europe too”. The Prime Minister said solutions could be found to make Europe more competitive and “address the concerns of the British people” ahead of his in-out referendum on EU membership.

Mr Hollande called Mr Cameron’s plan for a referendum by the end of 2017 “very risky” – but made clear that France wants Britain to remain in the bloc.”We think it’s in the interest of Europe and in the interest of the United Kingdom to be together but the people must always be respected,” he said at a joint news conference.Mr Cameron added: “We have different priorities but we share a common objective, which is to find solutions to these problems.

“And what matters is that the European Union and its 28 members are flexible and imaginative enough to respond to these issues and to work together to find answers that will make the European Union more successful.”  The PM is trying to charm EU leaders into backing his reform drive, something he has promised to complete before giving Britons a vote on staying in the EU.

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