On Wednesday March 29th, Theresa May, the British Prime Minister officially declared United Kingdom’s intention to leave the European Union. Indeed, she engaged the negotiation triggering Article 50 TFEU and launched the deadline of the two years’ negotiations with the European Union and its Member States.
Many reactions came along such as the one of Angela Merkel, the German’s Chancellor. On the same day as the notification to the European Council, she expressed herself on this important matter. She responded really carefully on the intention of the British government to manage the negotiation. Speaking for the European Union and as the Chancellor of one of the oldest Member State, she pointed out the fact that the EU “will conduct fair and constructive talks” and hopes that it will be the same on the UK’s side.
In the letter to the European Council president, Donald Tusk, the British Prime Minister stated the willingness of the United Kingdom “to remain committed partners” with the EU which also was one of the main point of the German’s Chancellor speech.
The main bone of contention was on the future relationship between EU and the United Kingdom. On one side, Theresa May laid out the fact that “it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU”. On the other side, Angela Merkel, supporting the position of the European Commission, explained during her speech in front of the German Parliament that “the negotiation must first clarify how we will disentangle our interlinked relationship and only when this question is dealt with, can we hopefully soon after, begin talking about our future relationship”. She made it very clear that this was not the way that the European Union and the Member States wanted to handle the negotiation. One step at a time seems to be the proper way to deal with this unprecedented context.
Other issues are more important to solve before we begin to tackle down the tricky question of the future relationship between the UK and EU. For example, during these two years of negotiations, the burning question regarding the situation of European citizens living in the UK and vice versa the situation of UK citizens living in the EU will have to be answered before any trade deal is reached. As outlined by the German’s Chancellor, “For many people in Europe, Great Britain’s intended departure from the EU is connected to very concrete worries about their own personal future. This goes especially for the many Germans and European citizens living in Great Britain”.
Angela Merkel was not the only one to make a statement on this unique situation. The President of the European council, Donald Tusk, also stated that “there is no need to pretend that this is a happy day, neither in Brussels nor in London “.