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Merkel, Hollande defy Cameron with EU convergence plan

French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin  on 19 May
French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on 19 May Reuters

French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are on collision course with David Cameron, according to French newspaper Le Monde. They have drafted proposals to bind the European Union closer together, while the British prime minister wants to revise the bloc's treaties ahead of a referendum on the UK's EU membership he has promised for 2017.

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Cameron is to visit Paris on Thursday and Berlin on Friday as part of his attempt to loosen the UK's ties to Europe - necessary, he argues, to undermine euroscepticism at home ahead of the referendum.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

He wants changes such as limiting cross-border migration and protecting the City of London from Brussels regulations and he wants to amend EU treaties to do so.

That is the opposite of what Hollande and Merkel propose in a document submitted to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker - "with the greatest discretion", according to Le Monde - on Saturday.

The previous day, at a meeting with eastern European countries where Hollande and Merkel's aides were finetuning their proposals, Cameron threatened to back withdrawal in the EU referendum if he does not win enough concessions.

The Hollande-Merkel plan is unlikely to please him or his Conservative Party.

The French and German leaders do want no changes to the treaties and they want more convergence on economic, fiscal and social policy, financial stability and investment.

And, with the euro shaken by the Greek crisis, they want to strengthen monetary union - while Cameron wants to keep his country out of the single currency.

They even suggest that after the end of 2016 further steps could be taken to develop long-term legal, institutional and political unity across the EU - not exactly what David Cameron has in mind.

 

 

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