After talks on the state of the Brexit negotations with Michel Barnier, the Foreign Minister reiterated Germany’s position:
The cohesion and further development of the EU are our main priority. That goes in particular for the single market with its four freedoms. If it wants, the UK can participate in the single market as it stands. However, we will not water down the single market or create special rules.
Northern Ireland question essential
Agreement must be reached by the autumn on the withdrawal agreement. The Northern Ireland border issue is one last major hurdle. Maas said that the withdrawal agreement had to guarantee that there would be no hard border in Northern Ireland. This guarantee ought to apply regardless of how the EU and the UK shape their future relationship. This was the only way to safeguard the Good Friday Agreement and peace in Ireland.
Seeking an ambitious partnership
The German Government very much regrets Brexit, as it will inevitably lead to frictions in trade and there will be no winners on either side. However, Germany is seeking a new, ambitious and close partnership with the UK after its withdrawal from the EU. This will apply to economic relations as well as to the spheres of internal security and foreign policy. Michel Barnier also repeatedly pointed out the opportunities of a partnership unprecedented in scope and depth. In Germany’s view, a no-deal Brexit would be the worst possible scenario for either side. Maas and Barnier were in agreement in Berlin today on all aspects of the withdrawal issues as well as on the future relationship between the EU and the UK. Even if time is running out, the goal remains a deal in the form of a withdrawal agreement and a political declaration by the autumn. The UK’s membership of the EU ends on 29 March 2019.
Which objectives is the German Government pursuing with regard to Brexit?
The negotiations have now reached the final stage. The UK has presented its proposals on withdrawal in a White Paper. Together with the given guidelines, this provides a basis on which the Commission will conduct its talks with London. The Federal Government and the EU as a whole are seeking a fair withdrawal agreement with the UK that regulates the disentanglement in as smooth a way as possible and largely limits the damage that will be caused by Brexit. This applies in particular to German citizens as well as to companies and science and research.