Chancellor Angela Merkel reached out to the U.K. in a speech to lawmakers in London, saying that Britain and Germany have a shared responsibility to make Europe stronger and economically more competitive.
Addressing both houses of Parliament today, the first German leader to do so since former President Richard von Weizsaecker in 1986, Merkel said that “united and determined” both countries can make the European Union work better in areas including energy, climate change and trade policy.
“We need a strong United Kingdom with a strong voice inside the European Union,” Merkel said in a speech attended by Prime Minister David Cameron and other political leaders that she began and ended in English. “If we have that, we will be able to make the necessary changes for the benefit of all.”
Merkel, speaking in Parliament’s Royal Gallery, focused her remarks on Europe amid speculation in the British media that she would back Cameron’s drive for EU reform as he attempts to renegotiate the terms of U.K. membership of the bloc. The prime minister has pledged to hold an in-or-out referendum on EU membership by the end of 2017 if he wins re-election next year.
Merkel referred to the “very special expectations” for her speech, saying that she was bound to frustrate the hopes of both sides in the EU debate in Britain.
Those expecting her “to pave the way for a fundamental reform” of the EU to satisfy some British wishes “are in a for a disappointment,” she said.
“I’ve also heard that others are expecting the exact opposite, 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,” she said. “I’m afraid these hopes will be dashed too.”