Relations between Britain and Germany could suffer during Brexit talks
As the Prime Minister prepares to trigger Article 50 on March 29 and formally get divorce negotiations underway, German chancellor Angela Merkel is reportedly ready to put the future of the EU ahead of maintaining good relations with Britain.
In an interview with the Financial Times, finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble said: “We have no interest in punishing the UK, but we also have no interest in putting European integration in danger over the UK.
Our priority must be, with a heavy heart, to keep the rest of Europe — without the UK — as close together as possible
Wolfgang Schäuble, finance minister
“That’s why our priority must be, with a heavy heart, to keep the rest of Europe — without the UK — as close together as possible.”
With Germany preparing for general elections in the autumn, fears over populist campaigns in other parts of the world – including Donald Trump’s election win, Geert Wilders’ narrow loss in the recent Dutch election and the increasing prominence of Marine Le Pen in France – has led to a surge in support for pro-EU campaigns.
Theresa May is set to trigger Article 50 on Wednesday and begin Brexit talks
Germany’s economic power means Merkel is a leading figure within the EU, while her main rival, Europhile Martin Schulz, has recently completed a term as the European Parliament president.
The only German party to support Brexit, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), has recently lost ground in the polls.
Now, officials in Germany are urging the EU to maintain a tough stance as Brexit talks loom.
The Germany finance ministry claims: “Any Article 50 agreement will have to include the UK’s assurances that it will honour the financial commitments it undertook as an EU member state.”
While Merkel has remained less critical of Brexit than some other high-profile figures in Europe, including outgoing French president Francois Hollande and EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker, she has warned Britain against expecting to be able to cherry-pick certain aspects of EU membership.
Merkel's plea for Tusk Thu, March 9, 2017
Merkel, who spoke ahead of a EU summit in Brussels, said the planned re-election of Poland's Donald Tusk as president of the European Union is a "sign of stability" for the bloc, despite bitter opposition from Warsaw
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French President Francois Hollande speaks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the second day of a European Summit at the Europa Building at the EU headquarters in Brussels
She said: ”Some things are not for sale.”
There is uncertainty in Berlin over whether an amicable Brexit agreement can be reached.
Wolfgang Schäuble has claimed Germany doesn't want to 'punish' Britain
Detlef Seif, the CDU’s parliamentary Brexit spokesman, said: “We all see it’s going to be difficult. It would be a miracle if we got a good result.”
Meanwhile, Norbert Spinrath, Brexit spokesman for Mr Schulz’s Social Democrats, warned: “We expect the British to do the honourable thing. If they don’t, the EU can take them to the international courts.”