Germany says timetable “damn narrow” for tough Brexit talks

Germany said on Wednesday it expected difficult negotiations over Britain’s exit from the European Union and warned London that the timeframe for the talks was “damn narrow”.

Speaking in Berlin after British Prime Minister Theresa May formally triggered the two-year countdown to Brexit, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel made clear the unity of the other 27 EU member states would be Germany’s highest priority in the talks.

“The negotiations will surely not be easy for either side,” he said. “Bad feelings are understandable. For many it is difficult to understand, especially in these turbulent times, how anyone can believe they would be better off alone. But this can’t be the basis for defining our future relationship.”

Nine months after Britons backed Brexit by 52-48 percent, May told EU Council President Donald Tusk in a letter that the UK is quitting the bloc it joined more than 40 years ago, launching two years of negotiations.

“The time-frame is damn narrow and all of the participants know that, including the Brits,” German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer told a regular government news conference in Berlin.

“There are innumerable issues that need to be clarified to prevent uncertainty on both sides of the English Channel as uncertainty is poison for people, the EU citizens, the Germans who live in Britain and don’t know what their future status might be and vice-versa for British citizens in the EU,” he said.

Schaefer said uncertainty was “poison” for economic and trade ties as well as investment and added that there was a whole stack of issues that needed to be tackled in negotiations in the coming months.

“Sometimes you wonder if everyone in London has understood what consequences that has, especially for the British economy,” he said.

BDI industry association president Dieter Kempf called for “maximum damage limitation” after Britain filed its application to leave the EU, adding that this was largely up to Britain.

He said it would be very difficult to avoid major negative consequences, especially for companies in Britain. He urged Brussels and Berlin to focus on keeping Europe together and strengthening the bloc during Brexit negotiations.

German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said May’s letter to Tusk would provide more clarity on Brexit and said Berlin was well-prepared to cope with the negotiations on Britain’s exit from the EU.


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Dean Popplewell

Dean Popplewell

Vice-President of Market Analysis at MarketPulse
Dean Popplewell has nearly two decades of experience trading currencies and fixed income instruments. He has a deep understanding of market fundamentals and the impact of global events on capital markets. He is respected among professional traders for his skilled analysis and career history as global head of trading for firms such as Scotia Capital and BMO Nesbitt Burns. Since joining OANDA in 2006, Dean has played an instrumental role in driving awareness of the forex market as an emerging asset class for retail investors, as well as providing expert counsel to a number of internal teams on how to best serve clients and industry stakeholders.
Dean Popplewell