It would perhaps be wrong for Britain to think that this tough posturing will pass during upcoming negotiations.
German’s chancellor Angela Merkel has made it crystal clear to Britain that it will not be allowed to cherry-pick the parts of the European Union it wants, including its single market, without accepting the principles of free movement of EU’s citizens. This could be a stumbling block for Britain when negotiations for its exit begin with EU officials.
While addressing Germany’s Bundestag lower house of parliament Merkel made it amply clear that Britain will not get special treatment.
“We’ll ensure that negotiations don’t take place according to the principle of cherry-picking … It must and will make a noticeable difference whether a country wants to be a member of the family of the European Union or not,” said Merkel.
She went on to add, “Whoever wants to leave this family can’t expect to do away with all of its responsibilities while keeping the privileges.” Countries who want to benefit from the single market concept will have to accept the obligations that come with them, she said.
“That applies to Great Britain as well as everyone else,” said Merkel. She noted that although Norway was not EU’s member state and still has access to its single market “because in return it accepts free migration from the European Union among other things”.
She underlined the fact that freedom of movement of EU’s citizens is one of the basic principles of the bloc. The ‘Leave’ campaign drew much of its support by rejecting this basic principle.
However, at the same time, Merkel made it clear that Germany was determined to maintain its close ties with Britain while working to strengthen the European Union.
She underscored the fact that it’s now upto Britain to initiate the next logical steps before any formal or informal negotiations can begin and shape its future ties with the EU.
“I can only advise our British friends not to fool themselves … in terms of the necessary decisions that need to be made in Britain,” said Merkel.
Once Britain triggers Article 50, it will kick-start a negotiation period of two years, which can only be extended by a unanimous decision.
“For as long as the negotiations take place Britain remains a member of the EU. All the rights and duties that come with this membership are to be fully respected and held until the actual exit and that applies equally to both sides,” said Merkel.