Theresa May is set to take the country out of the single market in order to regain greater control over immigration.
The Prime Minister has said that she will seek for the “greatest possible” access to the European Union’s trade bloc, as part of any deal that is eventually signed in 2019.
Many high-profile European politicians have rallied against her statement, claiming it was simply impossible for Britain to “cherry pick” its access to the Union as it wishes, accepting only conditions it wants.
Angela Merkel’s chief economic advisor Michael Fuchs insisted Brussels would be “tough” on Britain by not allowing Mrs May to accept certain access to EU benefits while disregarding others, in a bid to avoid a further break-up of the bloc.
A European Commissioner hinted that Brussels may be forced to listen to the UK's immigration demands
The four freedoms have to be addressed and that means we need to reinvent a new kind of relationship
However, Pierre Moscovici, the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, claimed that Brussels may have to provide some wiggle room in negotiations in order to strike a deal that is beneficial for the Union.
“We know that May is not asking for the participation of the UK in the single market. That is also coherent with what we said.
“The four freedoms have to be addressed together and that means we need to reinvent a new kind of relationship that I hope to be close, balanced and positive.”
When challenged on whether that would mean Britain could negotiate access to the single market without free movement, the Frenchman said: “That’s the outcome of the negotiation, that’s not the starting point.
“It’s not a denial from my side, but nobody can speculate – we need to move step by step.”
The Jacques Delors Institute’s research has said there is “no easy way to fill the Brexit gap” and that Brussels officials should prepare for a big shock.
Britain – one of the biggest financial contributors to the European protect – will leave a gaping hole in the bloc’s finances and it remains unclear how the bloc intends to cope with the shock.
May's Brexit speech: Europe reacts
Tue, January 17, 2017
Politicians and celebrities tweet their reaction as Theresa May unveils her 12 point plan for Britain leaving the EU.
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The British Prime Minister Delivers Her Brexit Speech
The think tank’s claims add weight to Mr Moscovici’s prediction of Brussels being forced to accept British demands, to avoid further damage to European economies.
“I am convinced that it is not an example to follow, that it is not positive for us or the UK,” continued the Commissioner.
“What I presented, as European Commissioner for Economics, the forecast for 2017 that the growth of the UK might be at risk of being divided from two to one per cent. Mr [Philip] Hammond, himself, forecasts showed that there would be as he says, ‘ups and downs’.
“Again, full respect for Great Britain or the UK’s decision, but full regret for all of us. We are and we must remain strong partners.”