German Chancellor Merkel has said that the UK cannot expect to keep its privileges if it leaves the EU "family." She has also pledged to do her best to keep the EU from drifting apart following the UK's vote to leave.
Great Britain cannot expect special treatment during negotiations to leave the European Union, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday in an address to Germany's parliament, or Bundestag, ahead of an EU summit in Brussels.
"Whoever wants to leave this family cannot expect to have no more obligations but to keep privileges," she said, adding that there will be no "cherry-picking" during the talks.
"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 said.
The chancellor, however, reiterated that there will be "no formal or informal" negotiations with the UK until the nation officially begins the process of leaving the EU, emphasizing that Britain is not yet ready to invoke Article 50.
Even after Article 50 has been triggered Merkel reminded that Great Britain remains a part of the EU "for as long as the negotiations take place."
"All the rights and duties that come with this membership are to be fully respected and held until the actual exit," she said.
Many EU leaders have been calling for quick decisions, but Merkel stayed strong in her position that there should be a unified response from all the other 27 member states.
'EU is strong enough'
In her remarks, Merkel said that the EU was "strong enough" to survive a Brexit and that she would do everything in her power to keep the bloc together.
"It is also strong enough to successfully defend its interests in the world in future."
Merkel underscored Britain's importance as a partner, but said it was up to the UK to determine the nature of the relationship they wish to have with the EU in the future.
Access to Europe's market also depends on "accepting Europe's fundamental freedoms and the other rules and commitments that go with it," she said, adding that this rule "applies to Britain as it does to everyone else."
The freedom of movement is one of the EU's basic principles, but the UK 'Leave' campaigners drew a great deal of support for rejecting the bloc's immigration rules.
The address comes ahead of a two-day summit in Brussels to discuss Great Britian's vote to leave the EU.
UK 'must face consequences'
Members of Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) supported the chancellor's remarks and called for patience and more time for the UK to initiate the process to leave.
Volker Kauder, who heads the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, warned against putting time pressure on the British following the vote.
"These negotiations, like a large divorce process, cannot be decided in one week," Kauder told the Bundestag after Merkel's address.
Merkel's coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD), on the other hand, called for a tough stance on the UK. "Those who decide against Europe must also face the consequences," said SPD faction head Thomas Oppermann.
Although good relations with Britain should be maintained, Oppermann urged: "There can't be an award for the exit, for nationalism and for anti-europeanism."
Members of the opposition, Germany's Left and Green parties, called for wide-sweeping EU reforms in the wake of the vote.
"Now, at last, a different type of politics is required. All this madness with liberalization and privatization must finally be stopped," said Left Party faction head Dietmar Bartsch. He also called out a deficit of democracy in the EU, citing specifically the controversial trade agreements TTIP and CETA.
rs/kl (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters, KNA)