Merkel Says U.K. Exit Talks With EU ‘Shouldn’t Drag On Forever’

What's the Risk of an EU Collapse Following Brexit?
  • German chancellor says economic, military ties to remain close
  • Up to U.K. to figure out what it wants from the EU: Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled she wants to avoid punishing the U.K. as it leaves the European Union, though the exit talks “shouldn’t drag on forever.”

“Great Britain will remain a close partner,” including through economic ties and membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Merkel told reporters Saturday in Potsdam, near Berlin. “Britain now needs to define for itself -- and that will surely be a process of discussion -- how it wants to shape its relations with the EU.”

Angela Merkel speaks during a news conference in Potsdam on June 25.
Angela Merkel speaks during a news conference in Potsdam on June 25.
Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Merkel, speaking at the end of a two-day retreat of her Christian Democratic-led bloc that was dominated by discussion on Brexit, rejected the notion that the EU should take a hard line to blunt calls for similar referendums in member nations such as France and the Netherlands. “It’s not about deterrence,” but rather about “matter-of-fact” negotiations, she said. “There’s no reason to have especially ugly negotiations.”

As Europe grapples with the fallout of the British vote, Merkel said Prime Minister David Cameron told her in a phone call that the U.K. remains committed to its “rights and duties” under EU treaties until the country formally leaves the bloc. The same commitment applies on the EU’s side, she said.

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