Merkel backs Cameron’s reform efforts

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and David Cameron review the guard of honor during a welcoming ceremony
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and David Cameron review the guard of honor during a welcoming ceremony
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DAVID Cameron has secured his first victory in his EU reform battle as the German Chancellor says she is prepared to work with him to secure change.

Angela Merkel said she wants to play a “constructive” part in Britain’s bid to renegotiate its relationship with Brussels after a meeting with the Prime Minister.

In a significant boost to the Prime Minister’s bid to reform the European Union, the Chancellor did not rule out treaty change.

Germany has “clear cut hope” that Britain will remain a member of the EU but negotiations are set to be “protracted”, she said following the talks in Berlin.

Mrs Merkel said: “Of course we have the desire to work very closely together. We would like to be a part of the process that is going on in Great Britain at the moment and we would like to be a constructive partner in this process.

“I have also said wherever there is a desire there’s also a way and this should be our guiding principle here as well.”

The talks mark the end of Mr Cameron’s whirlwind tour of European capitals to secure support for his renegotiation bid.

He said: “Of course there is no magic quick solution, but as the Chancellor has said on this previously, and again today, where there’s a will there is a way.

“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.

“The European Union is better off with the United Kingdom as a member and I believe that Britain’s national interest can best be served by staying in the European Union on the basis of a reformed settlement.

“That is what we both want to happen and that is what we will work together in the coming months to achieve.”

Mr Cameron believes treaty change is required in order to deliver real reform in key areas such as welfare but France and Germany have previously been cool about such a move.

The Chancellor said she was sure they would find common ground with Britain over the reforms of the Single Market “very quickly” and left open the possibility of treaty change.

She said: “Is it necessary to change the treaty? Can it be changed via a secondary process? If you are convinced of the content or the substance then we shouldn’t be saying ‘to change the treaty is totally impossible’.”

Mr Cameron said: “My view is clear - the substance requires changes to the treaty, but let’s get this substance sorted out first, discuss that and then move ahead and move on and make the changes that are necessary.

A senior Downing Street source said Mr Cameron would be speaking to all 27 EU leaders before the next European Council summit next month.

So far he has held discussions with counterparts from Latvia, Hungary, Sweden, Poland, France, the Netherlands, and Germany.

He has also spoken to Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, presidents of the European Council and European Commission respectively.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage has insisted the referendum is about who governs Britain rather than the details of any eventual treaty reforms.

Responding to the Prime Minister’s comments in Berlin, Mr Farage said: “David Cameron is trying to make the UK’s relationship with the European Union simply a question of migrant access to benefits.”

He added: “In reality, this is a marginal detail of a far bigger problem - both with mass inward migration putting pressure on wages and causing huge problems in the provision of public services and housing.”