Germany savaged Britain’s hope it could achieve a deal by 2019
Speaking hours after Theresa May triggered Article 50, the German Chancellor said she will strive in Brexit negotiations to make sure there is as little disruption as possible to the lives of EU citizens living in Britain.
Stressing she hoped Britain and the EU would remain close partners, Merkel told members of her conservative party the prospect of Brexit made many people in Europe worried about their own personal future.
She said: “This is the case especially for the many Germans and European citizens in Britain.
“Therefore, the German government will work intensively to make sure the effect on the everyday lives of those people is as small as possible.”
Mrs Merkel said the remaining EU27 will take a fair approach in talks and she hoped Britain does too, adding Mrs May told her yesterday by phone she would take a constructive approach to negotiations.
She added she hopes Britain and the EU remain close partners as they share common values.
The German leader said Mrs May’s Article 50 letter has given the EU more clarity on how Britain wants to proceed.
She admitted Germany and the other remaining members did not want the UK to leave, but she respects the British voters’ decision.
Earlier Germany’s foreign minister took a slightly harder line as he cautioned negotiations would not be easy for either side and two years may not be long enough – adding it was difficult to understand how any country could believe it would be better off alone in the current global environment.
Speaking in Berlin after British Prime Minister Theresa May formally triggered the two-year countdown to Brexit, Sigmar Gabriel also made clear that the unity of the other 27 European Union member states would be Germany’s highest priority in the talks.
He said: “The negotiations will surely not be easy for either side.
“Bad feelings are understandable. For many it is difficult to understand,…