Merkel warns of British ‘illusions’ about post-Brexit ties with EU

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Britain on Thursday not to expect to retain its European Union privileges when it leaves the economic bloc.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, warned Britain on Thursday that it should not expect European Union membership benefits after it leaves the economic bloc. Her address before the German parliament came days before an EU summit meeting to discuss Britain's exit from the EU. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, warned Britain on Thursday that it should not expect European Union membership benefits after it leaves the economic bloc. Her address before the German parliament came days before an EU summit meeting to discuss Britain’s exit from the EU. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

Speaking to the German parliament in advance of Saturday’s EU summit to discuss Britain’s exit, Merkel noted that some British leaders appear to anticipate that little will change once Britain leaves the EU. In a 2016 referendum, British voters chose a “Brexit,” and the two-year process of negotiating the withdrawal has begun.

“Countries with a third country status [the relationship of a non-EU country to the EU, such as that of Switzerland or Norway] , and that’s what Great Britain will be, cannot and will not have the same or even more rights as a member of the European Union. All 27 member states and the European institutions agree on this. Ladies and gentlemen, you may think that all this is self-evident. But I have to put this so clearly because I get the impression that some in Great Britain still have illusions about this.”

Merkel also said it made “no sense” to begin discussions regarding Britain’s upcoming financial commitments to the EU, adding “We can only make a deal about Britain’s future relationship to the EU once all questions about the terms of its exit can be clarified to a satisfying degree…First we need to know how Great Britain sees its future relationship with us.”

She also said Germany must defend the interests of the approximately 100,000 German citizens living in Britain.

Her comments reflect a growing concern among EU countries that Britain is underestimating the complexity of the separation, the newspaper The Guardian said Thursday, and the perception among some British leaders that economic ties will remain largely the same after Britain exits the EU.

By Ed Adamczyk