German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday (11 July) urged the United Kingdom to make up its mind about its future relationship with the EU. Ms Merkel had said earlier that Britain would not be able to cherry pick when it comes to choosing benefits without accepting responsibilities. She reiterated this principle on Monday when she said that access to the EU’s single market meant accepting also the block’s basic freedoms.
She thus rejected rumors that Britain could retain full EU market access while curbing immigration. Ms Merkel said that London should clarify quickly how it wants to shape its future with the EU but emphasized that it wants the UK to remain an important partner. “But of course the EU and the remaining 27 Member States also have to protect their interests,” she said. German Chancellor further elaborated on this, saying that “For example, whoever would like to have free access to the European internal market will also have to accept all basic freedoms in return, including the free movement of people.”
Angela Merkel said that it was regrettable that Britain decided to leave the EU but stressed that she firmly believed in the EU’s strength to overcome this break. She said it was now Britain’s turn to officially notify Brussels of its intentions, adding that negotiations between both sides on their future relationship could be initiated only after Article 50 has been triggered. The Chancellor said that Europe cannot continue business as usual until Brexit is dealt with. “We have to consider jointly what lessons we draw for the further process of European unification,” she added and concluded that “we need to make Europe more competitive, strengthen research and innovation in promising economic sectors not only to avoid falling behind, but also to set European standards.”