Germany will continue to push to seal a new partnership agreement with Britain by the end of the year but the European Union should prepare for an abrupt split of ties from 2021, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday.
“Progress in negotiations thus far has been slim, to put it diplomatically,” Merkel told the European Parliament as Germany assumed the EU’s rotating presidency for the rest of the year.
“We have agreed with the UK to accelerate the pace of the talks ... I will continue to push for a good solution but we should also prepare for a possibility of a no-deal scenario.”
Looking for EU agreement on coronavirus stimulus
German Chancellor Angela Merkel leaves the European Parliament after attending a plenary session in Brussels, Belgium, on July 8, 2020. (Reuters)
Merkel said her priorities included shoring up fundamental rights that the health emergency has threatened. She also underlined the need for solidarity across the 27-nation EU, which has been tested in recent months as governments acted alone to secure medical kit or tighten their borders.
Merkel -- the EU’s most prominent leader -- said the depth of economic crisis caused by the pandemic meant that member states
would need to compromise to sign off on a joint recovery fund.
“We want to reach an agreement swiftly, we have seen a greateconomic upheaval and we cannot waste any time,” she said. “I
hope we will reach an agreement before the summer recess.”
Lawmakers set expectations high for Merkel, the leader of the EU’s largest economy, to deal with other challenges from climate change to its troubled ties with China to Brexit.