Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor and Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader, shakes hands with an attendee. (Photographer: Christoph Morin/Bloomberg)

Merkel Warns EU Compromise Is Needed to Avert Harmful Brexit

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to work until the “last day” to ensure an orderly Brexit and signaled that responsibility for a successful withdrawal doesn’t lie solely with Theresa May.

Merkel’s comments suggest an opening after the U.K. prime minister made a round of phone calls to other EU leaders, including Merkel, in the days after she suffered a landslide parliamentary defeat of her withdrawal deal this week.

Addressing a regional party event, Merkel framed Brexit as a historic test of the European Union’s ability to withstand crises.

Merkel Warns EU Compromise Is Needed to Avert Harmful Brexit

“We also have a responsibility to shape this separation process in a responsible way, so that people don’t look back in 50 years, shaking their heads, and say why weren’t we in a position to make a compromise?” Merkel said Saturday in the Baltic port city of Rostock.

With the U.K. premier due to unveil a fresh Brexit plan on Monday, EU leaders and diplomats have said they’ll wait to assess May’s next move.

A disorderly Brexit would be “the worst solution” and Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union wouldn’t prevent the U.K. from staying in the EU, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who succeeded Merkel as party chairwoman in December, was quoted as saying by Le Monde.

Seeking Order

With 10 weeks before a March 29 date for the exit and a no-deal divorce ever more in view, Merkel said the turmoil showed how difficult the exit process had become.

“Let me say emphatically, I will work until the last day to ensure that we have a settled solution for the U.K.’s exit,” Merkel told a regional party conference in the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, which includes her electoral district.

Speculation has grown that May’s government may seek an extension of the Brexit process under Article 50 of the EU treaty. By the end of the week, May was sticking to her demands of EU leaders.

Earlier, May phoned Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

Staying Close

Merkel reiterated that the EU and Britain must remain close allies after the divorce, citing global challenges including nationalism and competition by China.

“The U.K. is a part of Europe,” Merkel said in the speech. “We’re bound together by a wonderful cooperation on all kinds of domestic security questions. The U.K. has to be a close partner in the future.”

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