Britain must pay for European Union single market access says Merkel ally

Warning is a renewed reminder to Prime Minister Theresa May that Germany won’t let the UK pick and choose the EU's benefits

Arne Delfs,Patrick Donahue
Tuesday 30 August 2016 09:18

An ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the UK will have to pay into the European Union’s budget if it wants the single market’s advantages, diminishing Britain’s prospects for a low-cost solution after its vote to exit the EU.

Juergen Hardt, a lawmaker who speaks on foreign policy matters for Merkel’s Christian Democrat-led parliamentary group, cited the case of Norway, a non-EU nation that contributes to the bloc’s finances in return for market access. The issue wasn’t adequately addressed in the UK’s campaign leading up to the Brexit referendum in June, he said.

“If someone wants to benefit from the European Union single-market structures, he also has to contribute to the cost of that operation,” Hardt said in an interview in Berlin. “In Britain, before the referendum, nobody talked about that fact.”

Hardt’s warning is a renewed reminder to Prime Minister Theresa May that Germany won’t let the UK pick and choose the EU’s benefits once her government triggers the exit clause and talks on a new relationship begin. He also said Britain shouldn’t expect special treatment on a halt to immigration.

“There’s no possibility to, for example, abridge the free movement of employees but to keep all the other freedoms” that EU members share within the single market, Hardt, 53, said on Monday.

European leaders hold post-Brexit crisis talks

Losing access to the EU’s single market is a threat to the UK’s financial industry, which would be deprived of so-called passporting rights that allow them direct access to clients in the EU. That makes the future of financial services a key part of the negotiations.

Merkel is seeking to steer diplomacy ahead of the first EU summit without Britain on Sept. 16 in Bratislava, Slovakia. Greater cooperation on security and economic policy are among the topics on the agenda, while differences over Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II remain unresolved.

With EU members such as Poland and Hungary rejecting a quota system for resettlement, leaders are likely to fall short of a permanent solution, according to Hardt.

“I don’t expect a breakthrough of the refugee question,” he said. While a quota system would be the “gold standard,” EU countries are more likely to consider a system that includes a voluntary cooperation for reluctant states, he said.

Citizens first need to start “trusting” the EU again, Hardt said. “Then we have to think about the new structures, and then we have to think about the negotiations with the British people.”

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