"I don’t think the right answer is for Britain to leave the EU, I think the right answer is EU reform and then a referendum, and I’ve set out very clearly the changes in terms of immigration and welfare that need to take place," Cameron told journalists, the BBC reports.
The reform aims of the UK PM, which are focused on the desire to curb migration from other EU countries, would require a major revision of the EU’s governing treaties in order to be achieved. However, at Wednesday’s meeting with the media, Merkel appeared to pour cold water on any suggestion of Britain’s desired treaty renegotiations, explaining that reforms at the national level were enough.
"As regards freedom of movement, as David quite rightly said, we have no doubt about the principle of freedom of movement being in any way questioned," she said, according to the Guardian. "But we also have to look at abuse of [those] principles. We are looking at legislation here. We want to see how this plays out at the local level."
However, the Guardian reported on Monday that such a proposal is regarded as unacceptable by the EU Commission, as it would involve redefining the principle of "free movement of persons, services and capital," which lie at the very foundation of the EU, as laid down in the 1957 Treaty of Rome.
Cameron on Wednesday instead went on to list some of the reforms he believes are necessary to tackle what he termed "the abuse of free movement." He stated that migrants to the UK should not be eligible for benefits until they have been paying into the system for four years, they must find a job within six months or go back home, and that child benefit payments from the British welfare system should not be paid to migrants whose children are residing in a different country.
The UK PM hopes to gain concession from partners in the EU before taking the matter to referendum in 2017, provided he and his party win the UK general election in May this year. However, UKIP leader Nigel Farage told the Telegraph on Wednesday that he doubted Cameron could gain the concessions he is looking for: "The one thing the Chancellor will not budge on is the principle of free movement in the European Union, he’s made that clear," he said, continuing that he believed that unless the PM could gain control over "who does and does not come into our country," the British people would vote to leave the Union in any referendum.