Germany interested in "orderly" Brexit: Merkel
13 Mar 2019, 19:14 ( 10 days ago)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated on Wednesday Germany's interest in an "orderly withdrawal" of Britain from the European Union (EU) following Tuesday's rejection of the Brexit agreement in the British Parliament.
Merkel stressed that it would be possible to specify the next steps for the Brexit negotiations only after the upcoming votes in the British Parliament on Wednesday and Thursday. Merkel conceded, however, that "yesterday has reduced the options."
After British Prime Minister Theresa May's reworked Brexit deal was defeated on Tuesday in the Parliament, lawmakers will vote Wednesday evening on the so-called no-deal Brexit scenario, which would mean leaving the EU without a formal agreement. If this vote on a no-deal Brexit were to fail, British parliamentarians will vote again on Thursday to decide whether Britain should seek to postpone Brexit.
Reactions from other German politicians and industry representatives ranged from cautious optimism to disappointment over the possibility of the British Parliament voting to postpone Brexit.
German Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party said that he saw "a great chance" that a broad majority in the British Parliament would reject an unregulated no-deal Brexit on Wednesday. "Rejecting no-deal Brexit by a large cross-party majority will unite millions in Britain and in Europe," Altmaier posted on Twitter.
Guenther Oettinger, the German EU commissioner, was optimistic that an extension of the deadline for Britain to leave the EU would lead to the Brexit agreement being approved by both London and Brussels.
Oettinger told the German news agency dpa that he expected Britain to postpone its withdrawal from the EU and said that "we will see what reasons are given for this, and we will examine them favorably."
In contrast, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) said that with this parliamentary decision, "we are getting closer and closer to a no-deal scenario." Maas accused Britain of "gambling carelessly with the well-being of citizens and the economy".
Franziska Brantner, spokesperson for European policy of the German Green Party, called on the British government "to finally demonstrate its sense of responsibility and find a way out of this mess." Brantner cautioned, however, that the EU should not automatically exclude an extension of the Brexit deadline as long as there was still "movement and new proposals for solutions" from Britain.
Similarly, Marcel Fratzscher, president of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), said that "the EU should only agree to a postponement of Brexit if London has a clear plan for decision-making."
Nonetheless, even a hard Brexit would not be the cause for panic in Germany as the strength of the German economy meant that most people in the country would not feel the effects of a hard Brexit, according to Fratzscher.
At the same time, a recent survey of 262 large German companies with economic ties to Britain conducted by the Federation of German Industries (BDI) and the consultancy Deloitte found that more than a third of companies in Germany's automotive and consumer goods industries, as well as in the banking sector, expected a hard Brexit to lead to job cuts in Germany.