German lawmaker casts doubt on UK's push to change EU treaties

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 01, 2015 6:09 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - A German lawmaker who is close to Chancellor Angela Merkel cast doubt on Britain's plan to change European Union treaties before the country holds a referendum on its EU membership.

Norbert Roettgen, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the German Bundestag, also said the vote was more about a split within British Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party than about solving problems in the EU.

"I can't see treaty change as a realistic option within the course of two years," Roettgen told reporters at a media briefing on Monday at the residence of the German ambassador in London.

He said Germany wanted to keep Britain in the EU but had to look at what was feasible.

Cameron, whose preference is to stay in a reformed European Union, has said the relationship between London and Brussels is not working in Britain's interest and that it would not break his heart to leave the EU.

Cameron will set out his reform proposals in more detail at a meeting of EU leaders on June 25-26.

He visited Berlin on Friday to meet Merkel who promised to work with him to clinch a reform deal.

She did not comment on Cameron's demands for treaty changes, something she has supported in the past in order to secure closer integration of euro zone countries. However, German officials have said there is little appetite now for a major reworking of EU rules in other European capitals.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Kylie MacLellan, writing by William Schomberg; editing by Stephen Addison)