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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Merkel says she is 'curious' and 'not frustrated' by UK's Brexit plans

The German Chancellor said she was "not frustrated" but wanted to know more about the UK's plans for a future partnership with the EU

epa06533415 German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) address the media during a joint press conference after their meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, 16 February 2018. At a joint meeting they discussed about European issues including the euro-exit of Britain and international issues.  EPA/MARKUS HEINE
epa06533415 German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) address the media during a joint press conference after their meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, 16 February 2018. At a joint meeting they discussed about European issues including the euro-exit of Britain and international issues. EPA/MARKUS HEINE

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she is "curious" and "not frustrated" about the UK's plans for a future relationship with the European Union after Brexit.

Speaking at a news conference with Britain's prime minister Theresa May on Friday, Mrs Merkel said she wanted to keep a close partnership with Britain after it exits the bloc in March 2019.

"I'm not frustrated at all," Mrs Merkel said in response to a question about whether she was frustrated by the Brexit process. "I'm just curious how Britain envisages this future partnership and obviously we also have our own vested interests as regards, for example, economic commitments."

"We would like to preserve this close partnership and maybe both sides, in a way, are in a process of learning and trying to find out where we find common ground," she added.

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A Brexit deal should strike a balance that ensures Britain clearly diverges from the European Union’s single market while also keeping close economic ties with the bloc, the German Chancellor said.

“In the end there needs to be a fair balance of divergence, from the single market for example, and on the other hand a partnership that is not too close. This can be achieved and the (EU)27 will ensure that the relationship is as close as possible but that there is a difference to (EU) membership,” she said.

Mrs May said she wanted a Brexit deal that was good for companies in Britain and the rest of the EU.

“I want to ensure that UK companies have the maximum freedom to trade and operate within German markets, and for German businesses to do the same in the UK,” Mrs May said.

Britain is hoping to negotiate a Brexit trade deal with the EU that maintains high levels of access to the bloc’s single market.

The EU says Britain will lose access if it sticks to its plan to end the free movement of workers from the bloc and no longer follow judgements of the European Court of Justice.