I am delighted to be able to welcome David Cameron, the new British Prime Minister and to see that he has come here so quickly, which is a clear illustration of the German-British relationship being not only intact but, indeed, a very close one.
We, in our talks, said we not only want to pursue our already very good relations and cooperation, but we want to intensify it in various areas. We have a lot of areas where we see matters in common, but first we actually swapped news about coalitions and that is something that is certainly new with the British Prime Minister at least, but I have the very clear impression that this part of our conversation was very good and fruitful.
I think what’s very important at this point in time when we have a global economic and financial crisis is that we cooperate very closely as big industrialised countries. We therefore also discussed how to prepare the G20 summit in an effective way, and the next European Council, because there is a very important issue on the agenda, the strategy EU 2020. And I think that Europe, apart from the question of how to set up a stability structure in the Eurozone, in particular needs to put down very clear markers that point the way towards an innovative policy; one that gives strength to innovative policies in green technology. And the United Kingdom is going to be an important and strong partner in all of this, as our talks today clearly have shown.
We also discussed stability in the Eurozone and how to possibly secure it. I was able to explain that today was a very important day in the German parliament. Let me say I’m very gratified to note that the package on stabilising the Euro was adopted today. I think it’s regrettable that the opposition parties did not actually meet their European commitment, their European responsibility. It was all the more important that the governing coalition sent a very clear message that it feels solidarity with Europe and there’s also a very clear signal that we want more stability culture in the future in the Eurozone.
We also discussed today that it’s most important for countries that are non-members of the Eurozone to have a stable Europe, because we’re closely integrated as regards to trade; there is a single market, so we need to pursue common policies on this.
We also discussed a number of foreign policy issues, particularly our common mission in Afghanistan. Here, too, we will continue to cooperate very closely in the future. We will also make the necessary preparations in order to set up sanctions in Iran and I think that this is going to be a very honest, a very candid partnership, one that is characterised by a deep sense of friendship. Thank you, David, for coming here today.
Thank you very much, Chancellor, for inviting me here today and thank you for what you have said. We had an excellent meeting and I’m sure this will be the start of a very strong and positive partnership based on results and practical actions in the interests of our countries.
As you said, we started with an interesting conversation about how you best operate a coalition, something you have great expertise in. Like you, we are in partnership with Liberals and we are working out how best to make that work for our country.
I’ve long admired Chancellor Merkel’s determination and leadership. We’ve met many times before, but to come here early on as Prime Minister is a great pleasure and an honour.
I want Britain to be a positive player in Europe. I want us to work together to achieve the economic stability, the growth and the action on European deficits that we know is very much in the interests of all our countries and in the interests of a strong, stable European economy, which we very clearly need.
In terms of the economy, we had a lot of agreement about action on deficits, a lot of agreement about how we can make the 2020 programme meaningful and make sure we get good growth in Europe. I very much agree with what you said about the need for stability in the Eurozone. This is a British interest. Britain is not a member of the Euro nor are we likely to become a member of the Euro, but we want a strong and stable Eurozone. That is where 50% of our trade goes and it’s in our interests that that takes place.
We agreed that we would work together on the G20 and the G8 agendas, particularly in terms of banking regulation, making sure that banks are serving our economies rather than our economies serving our banks, and I think we have some shared agendas there.
In terms of foreign policy, we had a very good discussion in terms of what needs to be done in regard to Iran, the dangers of a nuclear Iran and the action that must be taken both through the United Nations, but also action that we want to see taken at a European level to make sure there are meaningful sanctions to change the scales, change the balance in Iran on this issue.
On Afghanistan, we both agreed this is a vital year for the NATO mission, a mission we’re both committed to, a mission we both want to see succeed and we know how much this year and next year matters in terms of delivering that vital agenda.
We also talked a little about the European budget and the importance of making sure, I believe, that as we’re asking our own countries to take difficult decisions in terms of budgets, Europe should not be immune from that process.
But as I say, a great honour to be here. Thank you for making me and my team so welcome and I look forward to many more such meetings as we develop what, as I say, I think can be a very strong and practical partnership delivering results in the way that we would like to see. Thank you.