Gabriel: No ‘UK rebate’ in Brexit talks

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned the EU would protect its economic interests in Brexit talks. [360b/Shutterstock]

Britain should not expect a “UK rebate” from the EU in talks over its exit from the bloc, Germany’s foreign minister said on Thursday (30 March), in reference to a budget discount won by then-PM Margaret Thatcher.

The priority of the EU’s remaining 27 member states would be to protect their social and economic interests, Sigmar Gabriel told the German parliament, a day after British Prime Minister Theresa May launched the two-year negotiation process to quit the bloc.

“In all these, there will be no UK rebate,” Gabriel stressed, in a reference to a reduction in Britain’s contribution to the EU budget in place since 1985.

‘We know we will lose influence’ May tells MPs as she triggers Brexit

British Prime Minister Theresa May admitted today the UK would both lose influence and not be able to ‘cherry pick’ the advantages of EU membership, as she briefed MPs in London on the two years of unprecedented negotiations with Brussels ahead.

Thatcher had obtained the substantial rebate – equivalent to two-thirds of Britain’s net contribution in the previous year – after threatening to halt payments to the bloc’s budget.

With a potential row now building up over Britain’s so-called “exit bill”, estimated to be as much as €60 billion, Gabriel also reminded Britain that it is obliged to meet its financial commitments to the EU.

Momentum builds behind transitional Brexit deal

EU institutions and governments discussed the need for additional time before negotiations for Britain’s exit from the EU start, in order to complete the new bilateral association agreement.

At the same time, Gabriel noted that the divorce settlement talks should not lead to a “totally hostile relationship” between the two sides.

“We must stay friends,” he said.

As EU leaders squared up for tough negotiations, German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday rebuffed May’s call for exit talks to run alongside negotiations on future ties between the EU and Britain.

French President Francois Hollande on Thursday presented a common front with Merkel, insisting that details about the UK’s withdrawal had to be agreed on first.

Tusk to Brexit Britain: ‘We already miss you’

The United Kingdom triggered Article 50 today (29 March), beginning an unprecedented two-year period of tough negotiations that will end in Britain leaving the European Union.

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