HANDELSBLATT EXCLUSIVE Finance Ministry Pushes EU to Toughen Brexit Stance

A set of EU negotiating guidelines pushed by the German finance ministry calls on Britain to fulfill its financial obligations to the EU and says a free-trade treaty must include protections against tax dumping.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Picture source: Reuters

The German finance ministry has successfully pushed the European Union to toughen its stance on Brexit negotiations. A revised set of EU negotiating guidelines, obtained by Handelsblatt, calls for the United Kingdom to fulfill “all” of its financial “obligations" to the European Union.

A previous version had simply mentioned Britain’s “legal and budgetary” responsibilities to the bloc. That formulation was viewed as too limiting and ultimately dropped under pressure from the German finance ministry, EU diplomats told Handelsblatt.

The new set of guidelines also warns Britain against tax dumping and financial market deregulation that would “jeopardize the stability of the union.” A free-trade treaty with the United Kingdom must ensure that this does not take place, according to the guidelines.

The German finance ministry is also interested in an orderly withdraw of Britain from the European Central Bank as well as the European Investment Bank, which coordinates investment projects in the EU, and the European Development Fund, which coordinates aid to developing countries. All three institutions are now explicitly mentioned in the guidelines.

Representatives of the EU heads of government are set to meet in Brussels on Monday to discuss their Brexit negotiating guidelines one last time. The 27 member states plan to officially endorse the text this Saturday.