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Merkel, Cameron stress friendship amid differences

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Merkel, Cameron stress friendship amid differences


German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron tried their best to hide their differences on how to solve the euro zone crisis after talks in Berlin on Friday.

Both leaders sent out mixed signals on the best solutions to Europe’s economic woes, admitting they disagree on what role EU institutions should play in saving the single currency and whether to introduce a new tax on financial transactions.

Cameron called for “decisive action” to stabilise the euro zone, but Merkel made clear she favoured a “step-by-step” approach, underlining her opposition to the ECB becoming a lender of last resort.

“We had very good discussions between very good friends. There are many things upon which we are in absolute agreement: on the importance of the single market, on the need for budget discipline, on the need for all countries to deal with their debts and deficits,” Cameron told reporters after the meeting.

The British premier added that he and Merkel agreed the EU budget should be linked to the inflation rate, dismissing calls from MEPs for a five per cent increase “at a time when every country in Europe is having to make difficult budget reduction, difficult decisions”.

The differences between the two leaders were played out in both the British and German press earlier this week. The Bild tabloid went as far as to ask: “What are the British still doing in the EU anyway?”

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