German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a much-anticipated visit to London on Thursday.
The visit included a meeting with British Prime Minister and Conservative Party Leader David Cameron at his official residence in Downing Street, a rare address to both houses of Parliament, and tea with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.
Merkel’s visit comes as the British Prime Minister finds himself under increasing pressure for a referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership in the European Union.
In January, Cameron promised an in/out referendum if his Conservative Party wins the 2015 general election. The news was welcomed by many in his own party, as well as those in the increasingly powerful United Kingdom Independence Party, whose primary policy focus is EU-withdrawal.
Cameron wants to renegotiate terms and effect reform within the EU, then give his constituents the opportunity to vote on whether or not the UK will remain in the EU.
“It is time for the British people to have their say,” Cameron said in January. “It is time to settle this European question in British politics. I say to the British people: this will be your decision.”
— UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) February 27, 2014
I'm happy to welcome Angela Merkel to my Downing St flat, after her excellent address to Parliament. pic.twitter.com/0LoSuIKI0A
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) February 27, 2014
Merkel’s address to Parliament on Thursday may have disappointed those who would like to see immediate and sweeping changes to EU policy:
“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,” she said.
— GermanEmbassyLondon (@GermanEmbassy) February 28, 2014
“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.
In a letter published in The Telegraph in June 2012, Cameron characterized his issues with the EU: “Too much cost; too much bureaucracy; too much meddling in issues that belong to nation states or civic society or individuals. Whole swathes of legislation covering social issues, working time and home affairs should, in my view, be scrapped.”
Key areas Cameron would like to reform include migration, job seeking, and benefits tourism.
Image via Wikimedia Commons