It has seemed recently as if Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are inseparable. You may think this to be good, bad, or just damn-right inappropriate. However, the PM’s charm offensive to get the German’s on his side as he attempts to re-negotiate the UK’s position in the EU, appears to be paying off.
Writing in the Financial Times, the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schauble, said that countries outside the eurozone should not be put at a ‘systematic disadvantage’ by future integration. Downing Street responded to the finance minister’s comments by saying that they amounted to the German government publicly backing its case. Moreover, reflecting the call, George Osborne joined his German counterpart, saying that any changes to EU treaties must “guarantee fairness” to all member states.
The PM has promised the British people an in-out referendum by 2017 if the Conservatives win the general election next May. But he’s hoping that before then he can claw back some powers from Brussels so that he can mount a convincing case for why we should vote to stay in the European Union.
Many commentators have argued that Cameron has only promised a referendum to keep his ever growing euro-sceptic MPs quiet in the run up to the election. However, it seems even this commitment isn’t enough for many very vocal Conservative backbenchers. Perhaps they already have their yellow and purple striped ties on order. Many in Mr Farage's camp would certainly believe so.
Their deepest fears may yet be confirmed- indeed, during her state visit, the German chancellor said that the UK’s reform plans would not be a “piece of cake”.
However, compared to last year’s hostilities with EU counterparts, the Prime Minister seems to be winning over the surely-faced contingent in Brussels. There is still a long way to go, and much flattery yet to rain on the ubiquitous Angela Merkel, but Cameron’s promise of a credible reform programme has certainly moved a few steps closer.
Backbench Chief Secretary to the Foreign Department