Germany Complains British Insistence on Full Independence in Brexit Deal Not ‘Realistic’

Minister of State for Europe at the German Federal Foreign Office Michael Roth gives a press statement at the foreign ministry in Berlin on June 16, 2020 prior to a video conference of the European Union's General Affairs Council. (Photo by Markus Schreiber / POOL / AFP) (Photo by MARKUS …
MARKUS SCHREIBER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Germany’s Europe minister has complained that Britain is not being “realistic or pragmatic” in Brexit negotiations, with British negotiators insisting on full sovereignty at the end of the transition period.

British negotiators have been consistent in demanding full sovereignty over the country’s laws, trade, and borders, while the EU insists the British stick to aspects of so-called regulatory alignment.

There is also disagreement on the role of the European Court of Justice, and the EU continues to demand long-term arrangements for European fishermen to take fish from Britain’s lucrative territorial waters, as well.

Michael Roth said on Thursday that he was “disappointed” that the United Kingdom was standing firm by its red lines, claiming that “London is shifting further and further away from the political declaration agreed between us as a reliable basis for negotiations”.

“I would love those responsible in London to be more realistic and pragmatic. The Brits are known for the latter,” the German minister told AFP, according to The Sun.

Reports from last month claimed that the United Kingdom was close to abandoning the prospect of achieving a deal with the bloc and was preparing for World Trade Organization (WTO) arrangements. Days later, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier admitted that a trade deal was “unlikely” given the current deadlock.

In July, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who took over the rotating seat of the European Council presidency, said her country and the bloc “must be prepared … for the possibility that a deal doesn’t materialise”.

Technically, the United Kingdom left the EU in early 2020, but for now it remains in a “transition” period, still tied to the EU’s rules, Single Market, Customs Union, and migration regime until the end of the year. During this time, London and Brussels negotiate for a future trading arrangement.

While the British government has remained firm on taking back full sovereignty, recent claims suggest British taxpayers could be on the hook for EU loans until the 2040s.

Former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said this week that the United Kingdom faces up to £160 billion in loan repayments — due to the country’s ties to the European Financial Stability Mechanism and the European Investment Bank — beyond the £39 billion divorce bill.

Sir Iain called on the British government to cancel the Withdrawal Agreement, saying: “Buried in the fine print, unnoticed by many, is the fact we remain hooked into the EU’s loan book.

“You can’t be half in the EU and half out, the problem is the [Withdrawal Agreement]. It costs too much, and it denies us true national independence. This WA giving the EU future control over us has to go.”

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson not to “fall at that last hurdle” in the final months of the transition period and reject any form of “Brexit in name only”.

Any terms to a deal that does not result in Britain being “completely free of EU rules” would be “a betrayal of the referendum vote and the huge general election victory”, Mr Farage said.

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