Macron, Merkel hold talks on Brexit and other EU issues


PARIS (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron emphasized Wednesday that the European Union’s remaining members are unwilling to renegotiate a Brexit agreement the British government accepted but lawmakers have refused to approve.

Merkel was in Paris to discuss Brexit, relations with the United States and other European issues with the French president. With the U.K. leaving the EU, the two have positioned France and Germany as the logical drivers of the bloc’s future.

“The Franco-German relationship is the necessary condition to make Europe move forward,” Macron said during a joint news conference with Merkel.

Britain’s departure is set to take effect on March 29. The absence of an approved agreement on the withdrawal and future relations has created deep concerns of possible economic, transportation and trade chaos from a “no-deal” Brexit.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Tuesday that Parliament will get a chance to vote on whether to ask the EU for a postponement of Brexit day. All member countries would have to approve a delay.

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Joined by Merkel, Macron said Britain would need a good reason for pushing back its scheduled exit.

Any delay request would need to be justified by “a clear perspective on the goal,” he said. “We don’t need time, we need decisions.”

“If Britain needs a bit more time, we will not refuse that, but we are aiming for an orderly solution — an orderly withdrawal by the British from the European Union,” Merkel said.

The two leaders reiterated the withdrawal agreement the EU won’t renegotiate the divorce deal it reached with the British government in November.

Macron and Merkel said they wanted to strengthen defense cooperation between their countries, including developing a Franco-German arms industry and a common stance on weapons exports.

In January, they signed a pact to renew a pledge of peace and friendship Germany and France too decades ago to bury the bitterness from World War II. The new pact deals with increased cooperation in the areas of foreign and defense policy, fighting crime and terrorism, international development and research.

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