“Brexit means Brexit”, Prime Minister Theresa May promised the British, after a majority voted in June to leave the European Union. But at this point, before formal exit talks have even begun, the shape of future relations between the EU and the UK is still absolutely open. Economic interests on both sides speak for integrating the country as fully as possible into the internal market – if London could agree to accept its conditions. But the thrust of British politics is driving towards a “hard Brexit”. Theresa May categorically rejects partial integration models of the kind enjoyed by Norway and Switzerland. In the process of reshaping the relationship, Germany and the EU should therefore seek a specific solution for the British: a European “special relationship”. This would allow the UK to remain a close partner, but outside the internal market and the EU institutions.
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