German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday said that the EU could survive a Brexit and warned Britain the union would not tolerate “cherry-picking” in upcoming negotiations on their future relations.
“The EU is strong enough to withstand Britain’s withdrawal,” she told the German parliament ahead of a crisis summit of the 28 member states in Brussels.
“It is also strong enough to successfully defend its interests in the world in future.”
Merkel, who is expected to take a leading role in future negotiations with London, again voiced her regret that Britain had voted in a referendum last week to quit the bloc.
She said both sides had a “strong interest” in maintaining “close and friendly relations”.
But she stressed Britain would not be able to dictate the terms of its ties to the EU.
“We will ensure there are no negotiations based on the principle of cherry-picking,” she said to applause.
“There must be and will be a noticeable difference between whether a country wants to be a member of the European Union family or not.”
She added: “Anyone wishing to leave this family cannot expect to lose all the obligations but keep the privileges.”
“This applies to Britain as it does to everyone else,” she said.
A non-EU country can join the common market if it accepts the free movement of people, goods, services and capital, she added, mentioning the example of Norway.
Merkel, who had huddled with the leaders of France and Italy Monday in the aftermath of the shock referendum, said the three biggest economies on the continent had agreed on a “common position” on the approach to the Brexit vote.
Her warning came as US President Barack Obama yesterday warned against international “hysteria” following last week’s vote.
In an interview with National Public Radio, the US president said that he respected the results of the referendum. However for Obama, the vote means that “a pause button has been pressed on the project of full European integration.”
“I would not overstate it,” he added.
“There’s been a little bit of hysteria post-Brexit vote, as if somehow NATO’s gone, the trans-Atlantic alliance is dissolving, and every country is rushing off to its own corner. That’s not what’s happening.”
He described the results as a reaction to a rapidly growing European Union “that was probably moving faster and without as much consensus as it should have.”