Angela Merkel says Brexit is a ‘wake-up call’ for the EU

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gestures during her and Russian President Vladimir Putin joint news conference following their talks in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020. Merkel visits Moscow to discuss current international issues such as the situation in Syria, Libya, Ukraine, US-Iran tensions, as well as bilateral relations. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, Pool)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel believes Brexit should serve as a 'wake-up call' for the EU (AP)

Angela Merkel has said that Brexit should serve as a “wake-up call” for the EU, warning that Britain will become a major economic competitor.

With little over a fortnight to go until the UK leaves the EU, the German Chancellor has told her European colleagues that the bloc needs to do more to become competitive in the world market.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Mrs Merkel said the EU had to become “attractive, innovative, creative, a good place for research and education”.

She added: “Competition can then be very productive.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, shakes hands with European Council President Donald Tusk prior to a meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. Britain and the European Union reached a new tentative Brexit deal on Thursday, hoping to finally escape the acrimony, divisions and frustration of their three-year divorce battle. (Johanna Geron, Pool Photo via AP)
Mrs Merkel believes the EU must do more to be competitive (AP)

Mrs Merkel said last year that Britain would emerge as a “potential competitor” to the EU, alongside China and the United States.

Berlin fear that a post-Brexit Britain will “diverge from EU rules on goods, workers’ rights, taxes and environmental standards”, that “could create a serious economic competitor on its doorstep”.

Britain is set to leave the EU on 31 January, kicking off a transition period that will last 11 months, allowing the UK government to thrash out trade deals with Brussels before the 31 December deadline.

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Irish premier Leo Varadkar has said that there has to be a level playing field in the Brexit negotiations to ensure the single market and customs union are "not diluted”.

The Taoiseach said there must be a common minimum standard so the United Kingdom does not attempt to "undercut" the EU over its labour and environmental standards.

Mr Varadkar said: "The next step is negotiating a free trade agreement with the UK. When it comes to Brexit it is only half-time, and the next step is to negotiate a free trade agreement between the UK and the EU.

Britain's Prime Minister and Conservative party leader Boris Johnson poses as he hammers a "Get Brexit Done" sign into the garden of a supporter, in Benfleet, east of London on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, the final day of campaigning for the general election. Britain goes to the polls on Thursday. (Ben Stansall/Pool Photo via AP)
Britain is set to leave the EU on 31 January following Boris Johnson's election victory (AP)

"There also has to be a level playing field so that the single market and the customs union are not diluted.

"We must have common minimum standards so that the UK doesn't attempt in any way to undercut the EU when it comes to labour and environmental standards.”

Boris Johnson has insisted there will be no extension to the transition deadline at the end of 2020, meaning a no-deal scenario is still a possibility.

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