Britain will hold a referendum on whether to stay in the EU. Support for our membership has declined over many years. So I am negotiating changes which will address the concerns of the British people. But these changes will benefit the EU too, and Germany can help deliver them. Let me explain.
First, the problems in the EU that we are trying to fix are problems for Germany and other European partners too. We want to sweep away the excessive bureaucracy and the barriers to trade that undermine growth for us all. We want to establish the clear rules that will allow the eurozone to make changes without damaging non-euro countries. We want to deal with the loss of democratic consent for the EU by shifting power from Brussels to the Bundestag, the House of Commons and other national parliaments, so decisions are made closer to the people. And we want to stop people taking out from a welfare system without contributing to it first. Because like Germany, Britain believes in the principle of free movement of workers. But that should not mean the current freedom to claim all benefits from day one and that’s why I’ve proposed restricting this for the first 4 years.
Second, these changes would make a big difference in persuading the British people to vote to remain in the EU. Britain and Germany are key allies in creating a prosperous and secure EU. Whether it is our shared belief in free trade and sound finances, our major contribution to the EU budget, our aid to reduce the suffering that drives refugees into Europe, or our military and intelligence services working together against terrorism, we do vital work together.
Securing these changes will mean we can continue our EU partnership into the future. And they will make the EU safer and more prosperous for generations to come.