Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel issued the following statement today (29 March) on the United Kingdom’s letter giving notification of the intention to withdraw from the European Union:
A long nine‑month wait is now over. It is good that the state of limbo has finally ended, and that negotiations can begin soon.
The European Union’s 27 remaining member states have made good use of the time prior to official notification. We know what we want, we have a clear and detailed negotiating position, and we can give the European Commission a strong mandate.
Michel Barnier and his team at the Commission can count on our full support as they work to make sure our common aims are achieved during the negotiations. I will underscore this fact during my first visit to London as Foreign Minister, right at the beginning of next week.
The negotiations will certainly not be easy for both sides.
It is understandable that there may be hard feelings. For many, it may still be hard today to understand how anyone could believe themselves better off standing alone in these uncertain global times. However, all this must not be what our future relations will be built on.
Although it may sound like a hollow phrase, particularly when two individuals separate, “Let’s still be friends” is the right thing to say in this situation. The United Kingdom will remain our neighbour, and the EU will remain Britain’s neighbour. We need one another. We should do everything we can so that we continue to have close and amicable relations with London.
It is therefore good that the British side, too, has made clear it desires a strong European Union.
In Germany’s view, an essential guiding principle during the negotiations is that the EU 27 must remain together. We must not only preserve the great achievement of European integration, but also develop it further and prepare it for upcoming challenges.