A red carpet for Angela Merkel – but don’t expect a ‘bag of presents’, Germany warns Britain

Tony Paterson and Nigel Morris explain what’s going on behind the scenes of the visit by EU's most powerful leader

David Cameron cannot count on Chancellor Angela Merkel bringing a “bag full of presents” on her visit to London, German government sources have warned – as the Prime Minister attempts to win her support for reform of the European Union.

Ms Merkel, whose red-carpet treatment will include an audience with the Queen, will deliver an appeal for Britain to remain in the EU and spell out the two countries’ common interests when she addresses both houses of Parliament.

But the German government was playing down hopes of dramatic progress during a 90-minute working lunch between the leaders. A spokesman said: “The expectations being voiced in Britain about the visit are too high.”

Downing Street also portrayed the meeting as a stepping-stone on a long process through to 2017, when Mr Cameron has promised a referendum on Britain’s EU membership if he wins next year’s general election.

As the most powerful politician in the 28-nation bloc, Ms Merkel’s support would be crucial to Mr Cameron’s attempt to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership ahead of the referendum. Ms Merkel is said to remain convinced that the EU’s internal ties needed to be strengthened rather than loosened if it is to remain strong and competitive in a global economy.

German officials have suggested that any concessions Ms Merkel might offer to Mr Cameron concerning his demands for “repatriation” of powers from Brussels could be conditional on EU institutions being strengthened in return.

The Berlin government is also understood to have reservations about whether the treaty change Mr Cameron wants ahead of the referendum can be delivered according to his timetable.

Politicians from all of Germany’s main parties have voiced deep concern about Mr Cameron’s referendum pledge, not least because of fears that a British departure would severely undermine global confidence in the EU.

Ms Merkel is therefore expected to use her speech in parliament to stress the importance of Britain’s role in the EU, the strength of its influence and the need for its continued membership.

She will allude to both world wars in her address and underline the role the EU has played in overcoming post-war divisions.

But British officials believe there is emerging common ground between London and Berlin over the need for EU reform. Downing Street said the talks would cover economic reform, trade relations with the United States, foreign policy, the crisis in Ukraine and who should succeed Jose Manuel Barroso as the European Commission president.

Mr Cameron would also raise “the importance of powers being able to flow back to member states”. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the meeting was part of a “process through to 2017” with a “series of on-going discussions”.

Behind closed doors, the Chancellor is unlikely to endorse Mr Cameron’s demands for greater controls on so-called “welfare tourism” in Europe.

Instead she is expected to stress how all member states have benefited from freedom of movement within the EU and point out it remains a key element in the internal market.

According to a report, Ms Merkel is ready to grant Britain and nine other EU members not in the single currency special protections when the Eurozone is reformed.

While officials in Berlin insisted the personal relationship between the leaders was excellent, they dismissed the idea that the Chancellor’s lavish reception in London signalled a new Anglo-German alliance was about to eclipse the long-standing Paris-Berlin relationship.

“Britain can’t expect that – it’s not in the eurozone,” insisted one source.

Ms Merkel will also meet Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, and Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, during her visit to London.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS2 Teacher Cornwall

£21500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London