The conversation focussed on preparations for the upcoming informal European Council meeting.
Chancellor Merkel called the Prime Minister today. Their conversation focussed on preparations for the upcoming informal European Council meeting, and they agreed that there is an urgent need to strengthen growth and to fight unemployment, in particular increasing youth employment in Europe. They agreed that it is important to:
- use the full potential of the Single Market. Completing it and removing unjustified barriers to cross-border trade remains an important task to enhance growth prospects
- improve the functioning of national labour markets in the EU by taking appropriate measures at the national level
- conclude Free Trade Agreement negotiations on the right economic terms with key partners in 2012; and in particular use the High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth established at the EU-US Summit last November to identify ways to boost EU-US trade and investment, specifically the option of a free trade agreement
- reduce the burden of regulation on the European private sector; in particular through a Commission programme to reduce the overall burden stemming from new and existing legislation.
They also discussed the situation in the Middle East following the visit of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to both London and Berlin earlier this week. In their respective meetings with President Abbas, Chancellor Merkel and the Prime Minister stressed their full support for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians mediated by the Middle East Quartet and Jordan and leading towards a two-state-solution. They commended the Kingdom of Jordan for the important role it had played in initiating the talks.
They welcomed President Abbas’ support for the ongoing direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians and urged him to remain engaged in this process. They agreed that the Israeli government should take concrete steps to help maintain the current momentum of talks. They also underlined that both parties had to demonstrate their will to engage in meaningful negotiations by building-up trust and avoiding unilateral steps. They emphasized the need to concentrate first on the issues of territory and security and reiterated that both sides should be ready to enter into, and sustain, substantial discussions.