German Chancellor Angela Merkel sounded less hardline than some in Brussels yesterday, talking of the need to be “creative” to reach an agreement with the UK as the Article 50 clock ticks down.
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With some in the European Union disgracefully refusing to even negotiate with Theresa May following votes in Parliament, Merkel said in Japan yesterday that: “There are definitely options for preserving the integrity of the Single Market even when Northern Ireland isn’t part of it because it is part of Britain while at the same time meeting the desire to have, if possible, no border controls.
“To solve this point you have to be creative and listen to each other, and such discussions can and must be conducted.”
And she said: “We can still use the time to perhaps reach an agreement if everyone shows good will.”
Merkel's call for 'creativity' at her presser in Tokyo will clinch all tomorrow's headlines, but I can't help thinking on reflection the first sentence is far more significant in the long run. She is suggesting you can leave the Single Market and still have a frictionless border. pic.twitter.com/pk0OG5EplR
— Nick Gutteridge (@nick_gutteridge) February 4, 2019
With German industry breathing down her neck, Merkel is facing increasing internal pressure for the EU to secure a trade deal with the UK. Last week, the German government slashed the country’s growth forecast for 2019 by almost half. With Italy now in recession, European economies are increasingly anxious and know that they need to secure a deal.