Merkel Firmly Against Fundamental EU Reform
Those who expect fundamental reform of the European architecture are in for a disappointment, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared in London.
During her speech to the British Parliament, she also hinted at supporting the measures London has vowed to take in order to limit migration from Europe.
Days ahead of Merkel's visit to the United Kingdom, politicians from the ruling Conservative party hoped that, upon her arrival, she would back Prime Minister David Cameron's proposal to re-negotiate the conditions of British membership in the EU.
Speculations on the issue were also fuelled by the prospect of a British "in/out of EU" referendum promised by the ruling conservatives if they win elections next year.
However, Merkel explicitly said that the only possible reform was "step by step", not "in great leaps".
She nevertheless expressed her confidence that if one wants Britain to remain in the EU, "common solutions" can be sought.
The German Chancellor showed less reluctance to back Cameron on thorny issues such as free movement - a topic that over the last months has drawn much criticism at British plans to curb EU-originated immigration.
Although she described free movement as "one of the greatest achievements" of the EU, "it is also true that in order to maintain this and gain the acceptance of our citizens, we need to muster the courage to point out the mistakes and tackle them".
Merkel was also quoted as saying that her main priority was to strengthen the euro by expanding monetary union to economic dimensions, something that in her opinion would require a treaty change, though not in the way the British Prime Minister would like to see it, British newspaper The Guardian reports.
She made it clear she was ready to assist Britain in negotiations on rules for claiming of benefits by migrants within the EU and also on strengthening the role of non-Eurozone members in the EU decision-making.
The German Chancellor's trip to the UK continued later as she had lunch with Cameron and the two held a joint press conference.