“I am very happy that, after lengthy and not always easy negotiations, a proposal could be reached,” Merkel said of the draft while at a cabinet retreat in Potsdam. It must still be backed by the British parliament and the EU's 27 remaining members.
But Merkel, the leader of the biggest EU economy, added that “the worst-case scenario, and the most disorderly case, would be that no deal is reached”.
“This is an alternative we must always stay mindful of,” said Merkel. “The question is: is what we have now a foundation? I hope that it can be a foundation.”
British leader Theresa May on Wednesday won cabinet approval for the draft, but suffered a huge blow Thursday when a series of ministers quit as she tried to sell the deal to a divided parliament.
May faces stiff opposition in the legislature from Brexit hardliners who see the deal as conceding too much to Brussels and EU supporters who want closer ties to the EU or a second referendum.
May insisted that while the negotiations had not been comfortable, it was the best Britain could hope for when it leaves the EU on March 29th.
EU leaders will hold an extraordinary Brexit summit on November 25th. If they approve the agreement, the British parliament is scheduled to vote on it in early December.
The “worst case and the most unregulated case” is when there is no agreement at all, said Merkel, adding that she hoped that the current agreement could be the basis for the final.
Vice-Chancellor and Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) stressed that he regretted the “unchanged” British decision to leave the EU.
It was “obvious” that the debates in Great Britain would “not be easy,” he said. “Nevertheless, all we can really do is shout: The worst thing that can happen is disorderly development. This is not good for citizens, nor for the economic outlook.”