At a joint press conference with Prime Minister May in Berlin, Chancellor Merkel expressed her optimism regarding the Brexit negotiations.
It was possible to find a fair balance, she said, between the negotiating position of the EU27 and the United Kingdom.
The EU27 would ensure that the future partnership with the UK is as close as possible, she said, "but there will obviously be a difference between that partnership and the UK’s current status as a member of the EU". In the final analysis, a "fair balance" would have to be found between the two sides, which according to Merkel was possible.
Close consultation before the March Council meeting
The EU27 would be following very closely what ideas the United Kingdom voices, ahead of the European Council in March. Then, the EU27 as a group would consult closely and constructively on the influence this will have on the guidelines for the future relationship between the EU27 and the United Kingdom.
Following the departure of the United Kingdom, Europe would aim to retain as "close and constructive a partnership as possible" with the still member state, "both in economic and in political terms".
Time schedule must be respected, but thorough work needed
It was quite clear, said Merkel, that "We want to respect the time schedule." But even under time pressure it was important to do things thoroughly. Prime Minister May said, with respect to the sequence of events, "We will be setting out at different times the next stage of the process."
Theresa May also stressed that the UK was aiming to obtain maximum freedom on European markets, as the UK intended to guarantee its European partners. The Brexit agreement is to benefit both British and German businesses.