Sigmar Gabriel urged the EU not to punish Britain
Sigmar Gabriel admitted while he was devastated by Britain leaving the failing superstate, he respected the will of the British people.
The 57-year-old told the Munich security conference: “We should resist the temptation to treat Britain overly harshly – not out of pity but in our own interest.
“We need Britain, for example, as a partner in security policy and I am also convinced that Britain needs us.”
The Prime Minister is expected to formally begin Britain’s exit from the bloc by the end of March. The negotiation process is expected to take up to two years.
Mr Gabriel warned the conference that the future of the EU was not certain but that his nation would do all it could to keep the political alliance in tact.
Sigmar Gabriel talked about Brexit during the Munich conference on the weekend
Germany will do everything so that Europe does not split up
He added: “Germany will do everything so that Europe does not split up.”
EU member states have been split on their approach on how to handle Britain once Theresa May finally triggers Article 50.
The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, is believed to favour a divorce-first approach with Britain – meaning the Government’s plans to strike an EU trade deal by the end of 2018 could be dealt a fatal blow.
The Frenchman also wants to make progress on Britain's £51.3billion exit package before starting trade talks.
Michel Barnier is thought to favour a divorce-first approach to Brexit
Brexit Secretary David Davis is thought to favour divorce talks with the EU "in parallel" and has rubbished Mr Barnier’s “sequential” plans as they do not “seem practical”.
French officials are thought to be hell-bent on making the UK honour its financial commitments as a first step while Spain favours early discussions about future relations with post-Brexit Britain.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, has claimed Britain will be “weaker” outside the bloc.