Chancellor Angela Merkel has given the cold shoulder to a politically weakened Britain, as EU leaders meet for the first summit since Brexit negotiations started earlier this month. Ms. Merkel made clear that Britain, though still officially an EU member, should take a back seat to the interests of the other 27 member states.
“For me, shaping the future of the 27 member states has priority over the question of negotiations with Britain about the exit,” Ms. Merkel said in Brussels in the run-up to the summit. The European Union should of course conduct the Brexit talks in an efficient and constructive manner, the chancellor said, but “the clear focus has to be on the future of the 27.”
The 28 EU member states are meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to discuss a range of issues, from Brexit to trade to defense policy. The political winds in Europe have shifted dramatically since the last EU summit was held in April. Emmanuel Macron, a staunch Europhile, won a landslide victory in French presidential and legislative elections, while British Prime Minister Theresa May lost the Tory majority in parliament. And Ms. Merkel, facing national elections in September, has emerged from a slump in the polls to attain a commanding lead over her rivals.