Theresa May and Angela Merkel in Berlin. CREDIT KRISZTIAN BOCSI – BLOOMBERG 2
Germany needs a “comprehensive” new trade EU deal with the UK after Brexit to minimise the potential fallout for its own economy, a leading politician has warned.
Ilse Aigner, the Bavarian economy minister, said that Brexit poses a “high risk” to the economy and argued that the UK is one of the “most important trading partners for Bavaria”, one of Germany’s most prosperous states.
Britain is hoping that Germany will help to temper demands from France that Britain must “pay a price” for its decision to leave the EU.
Ministers were encouraged last week after Angela Merkel suggested that she was willing to compromise on free movement in the wake of Brexit.
In comments seen as a significant shift, the German Chancellor suggested that the European Union needs to “discuss further” the rules around freedom of movement.
She raised the possibility the first time that Britain may be able to gain full control of its borders while still retaining access to the single market, something that EU leaders including Jean-Claude Juncker have previously said would be impossible.
Ms Aigner called for a new EU trade deal Britain, saying: “We have to do everything to address the uncertainties that have arisen…we have to find ways to put economic relations with the UK on a new foundation without fractures.”
Germany has previously warned that Britain may have to continue to pay EU contributions for a decade after Brexit,
Wolfgang Schauble, the German finance minister, said that Britain’s financial commitments will “last beyond the exit” and that it will not benefit from any rebates.
Ms Aigner comments came after Joseph Muscat, Malta’s Prime Minister whose country will hold the European Union Presidency next year, said that Britain cannot be allowed to get a “superior” deal after it leaves the European Union.
He said: “All of us have been pretty clear in our approach that we want a fair deal for the UK but that kind of fair deal can’t translate itself into a superior deal.
“I know that there is absolutely no bluffing from the European side, at least in the council meetings I have attended, saying ‘we will start in this position and then we will soften up’. No, this is really and truly our position.”
Responding to Mr Muscat’s comments, a Downing Street spokesman said: “This is a negotiation that will take place next year and the Government will set out its negotiating strategy in the fullness of time. The aim of that negotiation is to get the best possible deal for Britain, for British companies to access and work with and within the single market and for European businesses to have the same access here.”
The Maltese PM also questioned whether Mrs May would be able to meet her deadline for triggering Article 50 by the end of March 2017.
He said he would “not be surprised” if legal proceedings delayed the start of Brexit negotiations beyond this date, particularly if the Government’s appeal against a ruling requiring it to seek parliamentary approval is referred from the Supreme Court to the European Court of Justice.
But the Number 10 spokesman said: “The timetable remains to trigger Article 50 by the end of March next year.”
Tags: Bavaria, Brexit, Britain, Britain must "pay a price" for its decision to leave the EU, Christian Social Union, CSU, France, Germany needs a "comprehensive" new trade EU deal with the UK, Germany-UK trade deal, Ilse Aigner, Jean-Claude Juncker, Joseph Muscat, Malta's prime minister, Merkel, the Bavarian economy minister, Theresa May, UK