French Prime Minister, Francois Hollande, speaking yesterday at a the Jacques Delors Institute in Paris, said that the UK must pay the price of its decision to leave the EU. Hollande told attendees of the event, which included the EU Commission’s president, Jean-Claude Juncker, that the future of the EU depended on a determination for the bloc to be touch in its negotiations with the UK.
“We need to remain strong. If not, we will threaten the very principles of the European Union” said Hollande, later adding that “There must be a threat, there must be a risk, there must be a price” for the UK, in order to avoid a situation where other countries within the bloc could seek to leave.
The speech echoes comments made by Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, in a speech to German business leaders on Wednesday. In a significant hardening of her position on Brexit, Merkel urged German firms to act united with the EU in its Brexit negotiations, warning that allowing the UK to have concessions in relation to access to the single market would represent “a systematic challenge for the entire European Union.” Merkel reiterated the principle of “full access to the single market only in exchange for signing up to the four freedoms”.
The rhetoric from both the French and German leaders comes in the wake of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference, in which she confirmed that whilst the UK would be seeking access to the single market, the main priority of the negotiations is to regain control of immigration. The exchanges lend support to views that a “hard” Brexit is on the cards.