Wednesday 17 January 2018

German media is split over UK vote

A man holds up the German newspaper Bild with the headline
A man holds up the German newspaper Bild with the headline "OUTsch!", for the camera, in Berlin. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

The German media has responded with divided opinions on what the Brexit vote signals for both Europe and Germany.

Britain has been portrayed, variously, as a much-needed ally to Germany, a beacon of true European values and an unwelcome hindrance to the EU's forward march.

Ahead of the Brexit vote, 'Der Spiegel' ran a union jack on its front page and a plea: "Please don't go."

Inside, the news magazine devoted considerable column inches to its appeal, but also included the counter-argument, which urged Britain that if it wished "then leave".

"The last thing we Germans need is a messy divorce from Britain. Without Britain, Europe isn't just practical, it makes little sense," it said.

"Britain also helps stabilise Europe's power structures...paradoxically, therefore, Germany, could in reality be weaker in the EU without the United Kingdom."

However, writer Christopher Schult made the opposing case in later pages.

"The current goal may not be to break up the EU, but London has never viewed integration as a project of overriding significance.

"Extortion only works if there is someone willing to be extorted; Chancellor Angela Merkel says it is very much in Germany's interests that the UK stays in the EU. But Britain's voting behaviour alone is enough to contradict her. In the last six years Britain has voted against Germany more often than any other country," he wrote.

Opposing arguments played out on the pages of the other influential German magazines.

Business magazine 'Wirtschaftswoche' ran an opinion piece earlier in June, wishing Britain "safe travels" and arguing that a Leave vote would be a chance for Europe to re-invent itself.

'Die Zeit' argued a Brexit was an opportunity for both sides, which would give "EU member states the chance to free themselves from paralysis".

'Deutsche Welle' argued a Brexit vote would leave Ms Merkel in a difficult position.

"Even more troublesome for Merkel and Germany - something it has been trying to avoid like the plague - is that it will have to assume the mantle of a reluctant leader in Europe to try and patch together a shell-shocked EU that has essentially been shot down in flames."

Irish Independent

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