Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, in an address today to both British Houses of Parliament – The Commons and The Lords – said the EU needs a strong United Kingdom voice within it. London is crucial to help bring reform to the European Union, she added.
This is the first time the Chancellor from a reunited Germany has addressed both the upper and lower houses of the British parliament.
Merkel started off her speech in English, delivered most of it in German, and concluded it in English.
While acknowledging that many UK backbench MPs (members of parliament) had high expectations of coming to a deal with the EU regarding the UK’s status, she said she could not promise a fundamental reform that would satisfy them.
Angela Merkel says some MPs will be disappointed
Merkel said to British lawmakers:
“Some expect my speech to pave the way for a fundamental reform of the European architecture which will satisfy all kinds of alleged or actual British wishes. I am afraid they are in for a disappointment.”
“Others are expecting the exact opposite and they are hoping that I will deliver the clear and simple message here in London that the rest of Europe is not prepared to pay almost any price to keep Britain in the European Union. I am afraid these hopes will be dashed.”
Merkel added that her position is a difficult one, amidst several countries with a range of demands and situations, she described herself as being “caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.”
Britain should stay in the EU
Great Britain should remain in the European Union, she emphasized – London’s presence makes the union stronger, she said.
“United and determined we can serve as a model for other regions of the world. This and nothing less than this, should be our common goal, I regard it as the task of our generation. In order to attain this goal, we need a strong United Kingdom with a strong voice inside the European Union.”
British Prime Minister, David Cameron, met with Merkel at Downing Street after her speech. Merkel said Germany and the UK could introduce laws to limit benefit tourism as part of “overall European cooperation.”
Cameron wants to negotiate changes to the British treaties with the EU before a promised referendum on whether the country should stay or leave. He wants to hold the vote before the end of 2017. He said today that changes in the EU are “possible, achievable and doable.”
Laws need changing to stop welfare migration
At a press conference at Downing Street, Cameron said both he and Merkel “want to see changes in Europe.” EU laws regarding the freedom of movement need changing, he added, to make sure people to not move into a country simply to sign up for welfare payments.
Merkel agreed, saying the aim of allowing the free movement of people within the European Union was so that people can work in different Member States, and not “having immigration into social systems.” She also added, regarding changing the EU “It is not a piece of cake. It is going to be hard work.”
Which foreign leaders have addressed both the British houses of parliament
- 1939 – Albert Lebrun, President of France.
- 1942 – Jan Christiaan Smuts, Prime Minister of South Africa.
- 1942 – Mackenzie King – Prime Minister of Canada.
- 1950 – Vincent Auriol – President of France.
- 1954 – Haile Selassie – Emperor of Ethiopia.
- 1956 – Nikolai Bulganin, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union.
- 1956 – Nikita Khrushchev – Soviet leader.
- 1960 – Charles de Gaulle – President of France.
- 1966 – U Thant – Secretary-General of the United Nations.
- 1967 – Alexei Kosygin – Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union.
- 1969 – Giuseppe Saragat – President of Italy.
- 1970 – Willy Brandt – Chancellor of West Germany.
- 1976 – Valéry Giscard d’Estaing – President of France.
- 1982 – Ronald Reagan – President of the United States.
- 1984 – François Mitterrand – President of France.
- 1984 – Mikhail Gorbachev – Foreign delegate of the Soviet Union.
- 1986 – Shimon Peres – Prime Minister of Israel.
- 1986 – Juan Carlos I – King of Spain.
- 1986 – Richard von Weizsäcker – President of West Germany.
- 1989 – Daniel Ortega – President of Nicaragua.
- 1990 – Francesco Cossiga – President of Italy.
- 1992 – Boris Yeltsin – President of the Russian Federation.
- 1993 – Mário Soares – President of Portugal.
- 1993 – Nelson Mandela – Nobel Peace Prize winner.
- 1993 – Mikhail Gorbachev – Soviet leader.
- 1995 – Bill Clinton – President of the United States.
- 1996 – Jacques Chirac – President of France.
- 1996 – Nelson Mandela – President of South Africa.
- 1996 – Tenzin Gyatso – Dalai Lama.
- 1998 – Carlos Menem – President of Argentina.
- 2000 – John Howard – Prime Minister of Australia.
- 2007 – Kofi Annan – Former General Secretary of the United Nations.
- 2007 – Bertie Ahem – Taoiseach of Ireland.
- 2008 – Nicolas Sarkozy – President of France.
- 2008 – Shimon Peres – President of Israel.
- 2009 – Felipe Calderón – President of Mexico.
- 2010 – Benedict XVI – The Pope during a state visit.
- 2011 – Barack Obama – President of the United States.
- 2012 – Aung San Suu Kyi – Leader of the Burmese opposition.
- 2012 – Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah – Emir of Kuwait.
- 2013 – Park guen-hye – President of the Republic of Korea.
- 2014 – Angela Merkel – Chancellor of Germany.
Video – Angela Merkel addresses British parliament