German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the European Union’s remaining 27 members must work together more closely after the U.K. voted to leave the bloc, a decision she called a “deep cut” for EU integration.
“First of all, we’re waiting for the U.K. to trigger its exit from the European Union,” Merkel said in a question-and-answer session Saturday with the youth organization in her Christian Democratic Union. “That’s altogether a deep cut for the European Union, but we met as 27 member states in Bratislava and said that we want to work more intensively with one another.”
She said the EU must work more intensively to bolster security and ensure that its decisions are followed, adding that the bloc has “deficits” when it comes to implementing actions made at the EU level.
Merkel signaled that there would be no pre-negotiations before the U.K. invokes Article 50 of the EU treaty, which U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to do in the first quarter of 2017 to formally begin a two-year exit process. The German leader last week said that any British participation in the EU’s single market will require adhering to its rules to guarantee free movement across the bloc.
May has pledged that the U.K. will wrest control over its migration policy, implying that Brexit would mean leaving the single market.
In a speech to the CDU group in the western city of Paderborn, Merkel also defended her embattled refugee policy, saying that German authorities must be better at exhausting legal options to deport migrants who don’t qualify for asylum.
Merkel also said Germany and other EU nations will have to increase defense spending, citing the outsized share of spending by the U.S. for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.