Merkel: Many of Britain's EU demands 'justified'

2016-02-17 16:18
German Chancellor Angela Merkel listens to the debate after her speech a day before an EU council meeting in Berlin. (Markus Schreiber, AP)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel listens to the debate after her speech a day before an EU council meeting in Berlin. (Markus Schreiber, AP)

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Berlin - Many of Britain's demands for EU reforms are "justified and understandable", German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday ahead of a key European summit on the UK's membership in the bloc.

"These are not just about Britain's individual interests on some issues or questions, rather it's about several points that are justified and understandable," she told parliament, laying out her government's position on the eve of the EU meeting.

"Like [British Prime Minister] David Cameron, I believe that it is necessary for the EU to improve our competitiveness, transparency and [reduce] bureaucracy. Germany has shared these concerns for many years," she said.

Even the controversial proposal to curb benefits to European Union migrants in Britain is "justified and understandable because the jurisdiction for each respective social system lies not in Brussels but in each individual member state", she said.

"Therefore, it is only natural for every member state to be able to protect its social system against abuse."

Cameron wants to restrict EU migrant workers' access to benefits such as in-work tax credits, child welfare payments and state-subsidised housing, for a four-year period.

However, many EU member states particularly from the former eastern bloc view this as discriminatory and at odds with the bloc's principle of free movement.

Read more on:    eu  |  germany  |  uk

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