German minister urges UK to be more ‘realistic’ in Brexit talks

Great Britain must be "more realistic and pragmatic" in the Brexit negotiations with the European Union, said the German Minister for European Affairs AFP in an interview on Thursday.

Michael Roth expressed his deep disappointment at deadlocked negotiations on Britain's future relationship with the bloc and was astonished that London "does not seem to have a heightened interest in discussing foreign and security issues with the EU".

Roth said he was “disappointed that London is moving further and further away from the political declaration agreed between us as a reliable basis for negotiations.

"I want those in charge in London to be more realistic and pragmatic," he said, adding that "the British" are particularly known for their pragmatism.

Continuing the results of a far-reaching referendum from 2016, the UK left the EU on January 31st after nearly half a century of integration.

It will remain bound by the bloc's rules until December 31, pending negotiations on its future relationship with its largest trading partner.

However, with the devastating pandemic on schedule, fears are growing that time is running out quickly to reach an agreement that could prevent a chaotic exit.

London has ruled out extending the transition beyond December 31, despite negotiators warning that an agreement is out of reach due to a fundamental loophole in key areas such as fishing rights and rules of fair competition.

When Germany took over the EU presidency on July 1, Chancellor Angela Merkel specifically said that the bloc had to prepare for the possibility that the talks could fail.

Federal Minister for European Affairs Michael Roth
"So that Europe can emerge stronger from the crisis, we have to let the well-oiled engine run at full speed," said Roth.
Photo: POOL / Markus Schreiber

Even on security policy – where both sides were committed to working closely together – London is cold at a time when allies were more necessary than ever, Roth said.

"In the geopolitically uncomfortable world after the corona, good and trustworthy partners are all the more important," he said.

“Close cooperation in this area is in the interests of both sides. But it is clear that we need two to tango … At the moment we are dancing in a standstill. "

To the horror of the EU, London had signaled that after Brexit, given Britain's commitment to the transatlantic alliance NATO, no “institutionalized relationship” with regard to security was required.

Germany listed the Brexit negotiations as one of its main priorities during its EU presidency.

A key concern is also how the bloc's economy can be revitalized after the great devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The initiative had formed the basis of the € 750 billion (US $ 884 billion) recovery plan approved by the bloc in July and marked a major U-turn on Merkel's part, as it was underwritten by joint borrowing – until now a taboo in Europe -Economy.

“The Franco-German engine always ran, even if it admittedly sometimes stuttered a little.

"But so that Europe can emerge stronger from the crisis, it is now important that we let the well-oiled engine run at full speed and take the other Europeans with us on an equal footing."

Copyright AFP. All rights reserved.

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