U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s push to reclaim European Union powers goes too far for Germany and won’t win support in other EU countries, said Edmund Stoiber, the former Bavarian premier whose party rules in coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Germany, France and Italy won’t back an erosion of the EU’s core social and labor-market rules as advocated by Cameron in his 7-point plan to “limit European interference,” Stoiber said in an interview at his office in Munich last week.
“Cameron is going too far in wanting to turn back the wheel on workers’ social rights,” said Stoiber, who ran for German chancellor in 2002 when he led the Bavarian CSU party that’s allied with Merkel’s Christian Democrats. “This is an attack on the EU’s core values.”
While Merkel says the U.K.’s place is in the EU, Stoiber’s comments highlight German reluctance to offer Cameron concrete concessions on renegotiating Britain’s relationship with the bloc. In a speech to both houses of Parliament in London in February, Merkel said she would disappoint those who expect her to “pave the way for a fundamental reform” of the EU.
Cameron has promised to hold an in-or-out referendum on British EU membership by 2017. He cited Merkel as an ally for European reform in the March 15 op-ed outlining his plan for halting a “constant flow of power to Brussels” and exempting the U.K. from the “ever-closer union” envisaged in the 28-nation EU’s governing treaty.
Stoiber, who has led an EU anti-bureaucracy task force since 2007, said he backs some aspects of Cameron’s demands to return powers to EU member states. Germany also “seeks more subsidiarity,” and the British leader’s proposals merit consideration in areas such as consumer protection and environmental rules, he said in the March 26 interview.
That jibes with Merkel’s limited message of encouragement for Cameron. “Like national rules, European rules need regular assessment -- if they’re superfluous, they need to be abolished,” she said in London on Feb. 27. “We need a strong United Kingdom with a strong voice inside the European Union.”