Merkel praises 'important ally' -

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Merkel praises 'important ally' -

Post  Sirop14 on Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:46 pm

In a speech which will be closely scrutinised for evidence of Berlin's willingness to co-operate with David Cameron's plans to renegotiate Britain's EU membership, she said: "We need a strong United Kingdom with a strong voice inside the European Union."

Speaking partly in English and partly German in an address in the Royal Gallery of the Palace of Westminster, Mrs Merkel offered a staunch defence of the EU's record in delivering "almost half a century of peace, freedom and prosperity" and said that the 28-nation bloc - battered by the economic crisis and the instability of the euro - can still serve as "a model for other regions of the world".

But, in comments which appeared to offer encouragement to the Prime Minister's hopes of securing sufficient reform to allow him to campaign for continued EU membership in the in/out referendum he has promised for 2017, Mrs Merkel made clear that she accepts the need for the European Union to change and suggested that differences between London and Berlin may amount to no more than "details".

"Our ideas of how the future European Union ought to look like may vary on the details but we, Germany and Britain, share the goal of seeing a strong, competitive European Union join forces," she said.

The German chancellor put forward no concrete proposals for reform of the EU's rules, but accepted the need to deal with "mistakes" in the policy of free movement of EU citizens and said that "unnecessary red tape" from Brussels needs to be subject to regular reviews and scrapped when it is holding the continent back from competing globally.

She said: "We need courage to bring about a change for the better today just as much as it was needed decades ago. We need to continue to write the success story of European unification for today.

"The challenge we face is nothing less than the question whether Europe will be able to assert its values, its interests and its economic strength that brings prosperity to its people durable also in the 21st century.

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