Germany’s Schulz Says Slew of U.K. Papers Won’t Aid Brexit TalksBy
SPD leader calls for negotiators to be left to do their work
Schulz is running against Angela Merkel in Sept. 24 election
Martin Schulz, the former head of the European Parliament who is leading Germany’s Social Democratic Party into next month’s election, said that the U.K. government risks further complicating Brexit negotiations by producing a series of position papers for the talks.
Schulz, who’s trailing in his race to unseat Chancellor Angela Merkel, also signaled he wants to keep her handling of Germany’s refugee influx out of the campaign. His comments on the sidelines of an event in Berlin are the latest evidence that the election in the European Union’s dominant country is being fought at the liberal, pro-EU political center.
That includes giving little ground to the U.K. over Brexit. Schulz said a customs union should be discussed if it could “help to overcome the main problems” in the talks, including the free movement of goods, capital, services and people, but he criticized the flurry of proposals coming out of Prime Minister Theresa May’s government.
“If the United Kingdom, if the government in London every day suggest another proposal, this is for sure, in my eyes, not meaningful,” Schulz said in English late Tuesday. “My feeling is in the turbulent times which we are living, after the beginning of the negotiations, to put new proposals in addition to what is already on the table is not meaningful.”
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Schulz called for negotiators to be given space to do their work as the U.K. heads for the exit on a spring 2019 deadline.
“I think the best way is to give those who are entitled to negotiate, this is David Davis on the U.K. side, and Michel Barnier on the side of the European Union, time to assess, to evaluate all the proposals on the table,” Schulz said. “Please give the negotiators the time they need to negotiate.”
Merkel on Fisheries
Merkel used a campaign stop at the North Sea to pledge protection for Germany’s fishing industry in EU’s Brexit talks with the U.K. Britain will “take back control” of British waters used by foreign fleets, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said in July.
“I can tell those involved in fisheries: we will push for fair conditions for the deep-sea fishers,” Merkel told a rally of her Christian Democratic Union in the port city of Cuxhaven.
Written off barely more than a year ago for allowing more than 1 million refugees into Germany, Merkel now is the front-runner for a fourth term. Even so, the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany is polling as much as 10 percent, a sign of resentment against the liberal policy by her government, which includes the SPD as junior partner.
Schulz suggested the campaign isn’t the proper place for debating the integration of refugees into German society.
“This, I think, is not an element of the election campaign,” he said. “If the general election for the German Bundestag would solve the problem, I would be happy, but that’s not the case.”
— With assistance by Patrick Donahue