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German foreign minister warns of hard Brexit

May 9, 2020

Heiko Maas voiced his concern amid floundering trade talks between the EU and UK. The two sides have also not agreed on whether to extend the negotiation period, if an agreement is not made by the end of the year. 

Heiko Maas (SPD) Bundesaußenminister
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/W. Kumm

A hard Brexit is becoming increasingly likely, as negotiations between Britain and the European Union have stalled, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper. 

Talks on the future trade relationship and 2021 trade terms between the two blocs have hardly made any progress since the negotiations resumed last month, according to officials.

"It's worrying that Britain is moving further away from our jointly agreed political declaration on key issues in the negotiations," Maas said, in an interview published on Saturday.

Read moreEU frustrated with sluggish Brexit negotiations

"It's simply not on, because the negotiations are a complete package as it's laid out in the political declaration," he added.

The UK and EU have not yet established any mutual agreement on how to go ahead with a comprehensive trade deal, or on whether to extend the negotiation period beyond the end of the year. The British government has rejected an extension of that deadline, in case the two don't come to an agreement.

"If it stays like this, we'll have to cope with Brexit as well as coronavirus," he said.

EU and US must 'work together' on coronavirus 

Maas also appealed to the US to work with the EU to mitigate both the economic and health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. "The United States and the EU together have an extraordinary influence, that we can and must use on the world stage," he said. 

"We must now work together to maintain the world economy and get global trade moving again," said Maas. "We stand for a common foundation of values, and we have many more common interests than opposing ones."

Read moreCan the EU regain its credibility after the pandemic?

He also touched on how he foresees Germany's Presidency of the Council of the European Union playing a part in the management of the crisis.

"As the largest member state, the expectations of our presidency were huge before the crisis, but now they've climbed again," he said. "We must fight the pandemic with the best possible coordinated measures and at the same time, get the economic revival of Europe on track."

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lc/dr (dpa, Reuters)