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Freedom of movement within EU not negotiable: Germany

Berlin: The freedom of movement within the European Union (EU) is not negotiable for Germany, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesperson Monday, following a report saying Germany would rather see Britain leave the EU if it curbs internal immigration.

Germany sees the freedom of workers’ movement within the EU as a major European achievement, Merkel’s spokesperson Steffen Seibert said at a press conference here, Xinhua reported.

“The general principle of freedom of movement must not be touched,” he said.

Seibert’s remark came on the heels of a report by German news weekly Der Spiegel Sunday, which said Merkel warned British Prime Minister David Cameron on the sidelines of an EU summit last month that Germany would abandon efforts to keep Britain in the EU if Cameron continues his demands to restrict immigration from other parts of the EU.

Seibert said Germany shared an interest with Britain in combating abuse of the free movement principle for social welfare benefits, but that was a separate issue.

He didn’t confirm the Der Spiegel report.

“It is, first of all, a matter of Britain to be clear about what role it wants to play in the European Union in the future,” Seibert said, adding that Germany wanted the country to stay as an “active and engaged” member state.