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Hollande and Merkel deliver blow to Cameron

Ben McPartland · 26 May 2015, 09:34

Published: 26 May 2015 09:34 GMT+02:00

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France’s Le Monde newspaper revealed this week that French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have agreed to forge a tighter political union among those countries in the single currency.

The newspaper said the agreement - written up by their aides on the margins of the recent Riga summit, represented a huge “No thanks” from the duo dubbed “Merklande”, to Cameron.

Over in Germany Die Welt newspaper said the agreement represented "Berlin and Paris showing Cameron the red card'.

It comes as the UK Prime Minister is due in Paris and Berlin later this week as part of his charm offensive to convince the leaders to allow Britain to renegotiate its ties with the EU, ahead of a planned In/Out referendum in the UK.

Cameron wants EU heads of state to agree to reopen treaties so he can renegotiate Britain’s ties to the EU and win back some powers from Brussels, while at the same time allowing for closer cooperation among eurozone nations.

The PM’s chief requirement is a change to laws surrounding access to benefits by EU migrants. Cameron wants restrictions on benefits unless migrants have lived in the country for four years.

He is also expected to demand an opt-out from one the EU's core principles of forging an "ever-closer union" between member states.

But it seems Hollande and Merkel have an entirely different agenda on the table. They want to see Eurozone reforms in four areas “developed in the framework of the current treaties in the years ahead.”

Those four areas are: economic policies, economic, tax and social convergence, financial stability and the governance of the single currency.

The Franco-German proposals will be put to a crucial EU summit in Brussels next month, where Cameron will also spell out exactly what he wants to change, if he is to campaign to keep Britain in the EU at the referendum.

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Hollande and Merkel's initiative is set to be given the backing at the EU summit in June, which would effectively close the door to treaty renegotiation.

Their agreement gives Cameron plenty to think about before he heads to Paris on Thursday and then onto Berlin on Friday.

“Given that Cameron is about to go on tour around Europe and meet several heads of state, this move by Merkel and Hollande can’t be just coincidence,” Philippe Marliere, professor in French and European politics at the University College London told The Local.

“It’s clearly a signal of intent to show Cameron that ‘whatever he wants to get from us, we aren't budging when it comes to treaties and the monetary union’.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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