7th November 2014

Politics: Germany will not sacrifice free movement of people, Merkel indicates

On Sunday 2 November, German media informed about Angela Merkel´s worries about the UK´s position towards EU free movement of people. UK´s PM David Cameron is under pressure at home to cope with the allegedly overwhelming numbers of incoming workforce from the EU. The pressure is exercised mainly by the anti-EU UKIP party of Nigel Farage, but also by some anti-EU conservatives. Earlier, he stated that his government is ready to change the immigration laws so as to put a cap on immigration, including from the EU. This would clearly violate the EU law. Also, this step might be a step over the red line for Ms Merkel, until now a strong supporter of the UK inside the EU. When Mr Cameron announced his plan to hold an in-or-out referendum in 2017 if he stays in government after next year´s general elections, Ms Merkel understood his call for EU treaties revision and declared ready to discuss and possibly reform. But now, Der Spiegel informed, Ms Merkel is uneasy about Mr Cameron´s plan to scrap a key EU free movement. For the first time, it is said, she admitted “Brexit” a real possibility. In other words, German support for the UK has its limits – and these are the free movements. If Mr Cameron proceeds with his plan, he will almost certainly lose Ms Merkel´s backing. Under such circumstances, if the 2017 referendum was to take place, the UK would practically push itself out of the EU. But Ms Merkel´s statement on the matter seems clear – free movements are non-negotiable, even if it meant an EU without the UK.

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Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic