Berlin (AP) - Chancellor Angela Merkel has given the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson immediately before his today's inaugural visit to Berlin, a significant rebuff. There will be no renegotiation of the exit agreement with the EU.
"The moment we have a practical ruling on how to comply with the Good Friday Agreement, and yet define the single market (...) boundary, we need the backstop (hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland), "Merkel said the day before in Reykjavik.
She added: "Of course we will think about practical solutions" - and you can also find them "in a short time". The EU is ready. "But we do not have to open the exit agreement." At the same time, the Chancellor emphasized that the 27 EU member states could not be divided on this issue.
Johnson, who plans to travel to Paris on Thursday, has pledged to take Britain out of the EU on 31 October, with or without agreement. In a letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk, the British Prime Minister had just demanded the cancellation of the EU's requested guarantee clause for an open border in Ireland. Instead of the so-called backstop, he held out other "commitments" in the UK. What he meant, he left open. French President Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly argued against a long delay in Brexit and also does not want any changes to the contract.
Johnson attributed the rejection of the EU to his desire for change to the agreement on the false hope that the UK Parliament would prevent a no-deal Brexit. He made that clear on Tuesday evening in a BBC interview. During his upcoming visits to Berlin, Paris and the G7 summit in Biarritz this week, he will make it clear that the backstop must be gone.
The Greens accused the British prime minister of putting off a show in the Brexit dispute rather than seeking compromise. "Boris Johnson's visit is not a constructive conversation, but rather a show for London," said the European Green Party expert in the Bundestag, Franziska Brantner, the German Press Agency. "The British PM collects baskets of European leaders to stand up and say the EU has provoked tough Brexit because it did not oppose the British." This story would have something to oppose the Europeans.
The British Chamber of Commerce in Germany warned Johnson against an unregulated Brexit. "The mood among the companies is extremely bad, because all fear that Johnson pervades a hard Brexit regardless of losses," said CEO Andreas Meyer-Schwickerath dpa. He further argued that the EU and Britain needed to find a solution. "I am not in favor of substantive renegotiation of the agreement, but both sides have become very involved, and both sides must somehow come to a compromise." He added, "If a no deal comes, then British and German industry will be hard hit, and we have the fifth largest trading volume in the world with the UK, which means huge potential losses for Germany."
The Federation of German Industries (BDI) is against renegotiation of the exit agreement between the EU and the UK. BDI Chief Executive Joachim Lang told the dpa: "German industry supports the Federal Government and the European Commission in standing by the negotiated contract." Brussels and London must set the right course to avert the impending hard Brexit. "The exit agreement is of huge importance to the German economy."
The CDU foreign policy Norbert Röttgen told the dpa: "Boris Johnson knows that neither the German Chancellor nor the French President can offer him something." Röttgen, who is the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Bundestag, called on Merkel and Johnson to take joint positions on pressing issues such as the protests in Hong Kong or Iranian politics. "That would be an important signal for the future of German-British relations, even after a possible Brexit."
The FDP foreign politician Alexander Graf Lambsdorff called on Johnson to make concrete proposals to avoid an unregulated Brexit. "The weakness of the British position has always been under Theresa May, that was not clear what the British want," said the Deputy FDP faction leader of the dpa. The EU is not about the backstop itself, but about avoiding a hard border on the Irish island. The backstop is for Britain to remain part of a customs union with the EU until another solution is found that eliminates controls. For Northern Ireland, some of the rules of the European single market should also apply.