LONDON (AP) — Over venison dinner at London’s Downing Street, German Chancellor Angela Merkel lobbied one of the European Union’s most reluctant members to back a program of integration which would see more powers and more money handed to EU headquarters in Brussels.
Merkel faces a tough sell with British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose ruling Conservative Party has never been particularly enthusiastic about European integration. Cameron is under pressure from a large and vocal group of lawmakers in his own party to stand firm against any attempt to expand the EU’s remit or its budget.
Speaking to reporters before the dinner, Cameron said that debt-saddled European nations struggling to recover from the global financial downturn could ill afford to pour more money into Brussels’ coffers.
“I believe it would be wrong for the European budget to increase at a time when we are having to make difficult decisions not just in Britain but all over the European Union to get our budgets back to balancing,” he said. “That’s why I’ve said it should be at best a cut (in the EU budget), at worst a freeze.”
Merkel, speaking through an interpreter, acknowledged that every European leader needed “to do something that will stand up in the court of public opinion back home.”
But she declined to say whether she supported Cameron’s push for a freeze, saying she wanted to speak to the prime minister about it first.
It could be a strained conversation.
Before her trip to London, Merkel said she wanted the upcoming summit of EU government leaders to come up with a plan to give the bloc more powers to intervene in national budgets. In a speech to legislators in Brussels, she said that she wanted all EU member states to eventually adopt the euro currency and calling for transforming the European Commission — which currently drafts EU legislation — into “something like a European government.”
Such talk is anathema to Cameron’s and his Conservatives, many of whom believe the EU already has too much power and some of whom are pushing for a referendum on Britain’s continued membership in the body.
Such a move would in turn be disturbing for Merkel, who is counting on strengthening links between European countries to get a grip on the enormous debts racked up by countries such as Greece and Spain which threaten the stability of the continent’s single currency. In her speech to European legislators Thursday she described the idea of Britain turning its back on Europe as unimaginable.
“I will do everything to keep the U.K. in the EU as a good partner; that is why I am going to London this evening,” she said, adding that she would tell the inhabitants of “this wonderful island” that “you can be very happy but you won’t be happy if you are alone in this world.”
Raf Casert reported from Brussels.
More Related Stories
- This is what Guy Fieri looks like as a balloon
- Iran hackers aiming at U.S. energy firms
- Lawyers release data in attempt to discredit Trayvon Martin
- Anonymous rallies behind Kaitlyn Hunt
- Bridge collapse: Part of "aging infrastructure"
- Mistrial in penalty phase of Arias case
- Amanda Bynes arrested after hurling bong from window
- Interstate 5 bridge collapses north of Seattle
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- UK Military: London attack victim was a "model soldier"
- Billionaire hedge funder: Babies, breast-feeding "kill" focus, keep women from succeeding
- "Bookless library" set to open in Texas
- 2 more arrested in London attacks
- Glenn Beck: CNN interview with atheist tornado survivor was a setup!
- Incoming BBC news director on journalism gender gap: "We can do better"
- Illegal construction, shoddy materials at fault in Bangladesh factory disaster
- Ahead of Obama's speech, U.S. acknowledges four American drone killings
- Must-see morning clip: Bill O'Reilly visits "The Daily Show"
- Lawsuit alleges anti-gay hiring practices at ExxonMobil
- Boy Scouts poised to vote, still greatly divided on gay youth
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11