Merkel: Post-Brexit Britain ‘Potential Competitor’ to EU

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed concern that Brexit Britain could be a “potential competitor” to the EU like China or the United States.

Mrs Merkel made the comments alongside French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris at a working dinner where the two leaders discussed closer cooperation between their countries on issues such as trade.

“We will do all this in the knowledge that with the departure of Great Britain, a potential competitor will, of course, emerge for us. That is to say, in addition to China and the United States of America, there will be Great Britain as well,” Chancellor Merkel said on Sunday in comments reported by POLITICO.

She continued: “Here Europe must show what the European Union can achieve: That means we must work faster, work more consistently, and the new [European] Commission with Ursula von der Leyen at its head should also become operational as quickly as possible.”

In early September, the German leader raised the issue of the UK becoming an “economic competitor at our door” while admitting that the bloc is going to be “weaker with Britain’s exit”.

The EU has demanded that the UK keep close alignment to the bloc in matters of environmental standards, state aid, and regulations for fear that if the UK diverged after Brexit, it could have a competitive edge over its European neighbours. Brussels officials have threatened not to lift tariffs in a future UK-EU deal unless this ‘level playing field’ is maintained.

In October, France’s Europe minister Amélie de Montchalin said her country would only accept an alternative to the EU-approved withdrawal treaty if Brussels can “work fairly” with London post-Brexit. The French minister added: “We have to look at whether standards are being met.”

“I do not want to have a tax haven at the gates of Europe,” Ms de Montchalin said.

Not only does Brussels fear the UK diverging from the EU, but is aware of the country’s possible closer alignment with the USA.

Incoming President of the European Council Charles Michel said last month: “How do we maintain a close relationship to the United Kingdom, our ally and neighbour? How will we repair the potential damage caused by a hard Brexit? The UK is now looking more and more toward the United States.”

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