Brexit Position German Coalition Party: No Favors for Britain

The European Union should focus on keeping the bloc together when negotiating the U.K.'s exit, Germany’s Social Democrats underlined in a position paper designed to prevent cherry-picking.
Theresa May and Angela Merkel.

The European Union should focus on keeping the bloc together when negotiating the exit of Britain, Germany’s Social Democrats have argued in a position paper.

The U.K. should not be allowed any favors and the remaining bloc of 27 nations should even be willing to suffer one-off economic hits, a party spokeswoman told Handelsblatt Global.

"Were we to allow a 'Europe à la Carte,' this would lead to incalculable domino effects that would threaten the unity of the Union," the deputy head of the Social Democrats faction in the Bundestag, Axel Schäfer, said in an email to Handelsblatt Global.

The center-left Social Democratic Party, or SPD, is led by Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel, and is the junior partner to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives in the governing right-left coalition in Berlin.

As the largest economy in Europe and the European Union, Germany is a political heavyweight in shaping E.U. policies, together with France, the E.U.'s second-largest economy. Both Germany as well as France hold national elections this year.

Last year, after Britain voted to leave the E.U., Ms. Merkel said that the country should not be allowed to cherry-pick its preferred policies.

On Monday, she reiterated that stance, saying during a policy speech that the U.K. would need to adhere to rules on freedom of movement in return for access to the single market.

The SPD parliamentary group will discuss the paper on Thursday and decide on its exact content, the party spokeswoman confirmed. News agency Reuters had earlier reported on the report and upcoming meeting.

Lawmaker Mr. Schäfer said the Social Democrats did not want to punish Britain with its Brexit position and said the country remained a "close partner" to which Germany was tied firmly politically, economically and culturally.

"In order to keep it this way realistic expectations have to exist. Currently, I doubt whether this is the case with the Brexiteers of the government in London," Mr. Schäfer said. "Neither cherry-picking nor 'Have your cake and eat it' are even coming close to possible negotiation solutions."

British Prime Minister Theresa May plans to officially file her request to leave the E.U. by the end of March. The country will then have two  years before it has to exit the bloc.


Gilbert Kreijger is an editor with Handelsblatt Global. To contact the author: [email protected]