German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered a fresh warning on the timing of Brexit talks when she met Theresa May for the first time since the latter became Prime Minister.
Visiting Berlin just a week after entering office, May was told that the UK must activate departure mechanisms before seeking agreements on freedom of movement or single market access.
“Only then will the proper negotiations start,” Merkel said at a joint press conference in Berlin.
The German chancellor also urged more clarity from the UK on its goals from Brexit negotiations.
“I think it's in all of our interests if Great Britain has a very well defined negotiating position,” Merkel said.
“We all have an interest in these things being carefully prepared.”
May said the UK would work towards a “sensible an orderly departure” by triggering the EU’s Article 50 to leave the European Union in 2017.
This will give the UK two years to negotiate the terms of its departure.
May admitted that the timescale “will not please everyone,” but agreed on the need for preparation.
“We are taking some time to determine the principles and our objectives before we trigger the formal process of negotiation,” May said.
Nonetheless, both sides stressed commitment to cooperation outside of the EU, with Merkel also noting the UK’s roles in both Nato and the G7.
“Irrespective of the decision that the people in the UK have taken to leave the European Union, we are linked by very close bonds of friendship and partnership,” Merkel said.