Norbert Roettgen.jpg
German politician Norbert Roettgen
Photograph: Photo by Oliver Hallmann, used under CC BY

Norbert Roettgen, an influential German politician, has proposed a flexible model of partnership between Britain and the European Union that could put the country on a par with Switzerland, Turkey or Ukraine and sidestep the thorny issue of labour movement.

Britain and its 27 EU partners face the thorny task of hashing out their future relationship after the country voted in June to leave the bloc - a complicated process that will take several years to complete.

One of the key complaints of British voters has been the free access to Britain's labour market enjoyed by EU workers, but Brussels insists that is a core condition for much-cherished access to Europe's single market.

Roettgen - who chairs the German parliament's foreign policy committee and is a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats - said more flexibility was required, in a telephone interview with dpa.

"Demanding unrestricted labour freedom would stand in the way of a successful and mutually beneficial cooperation between the EU and Britain," Roettgen said, adding that it would be a mistake to take "punitive action" against London.

He proposed a three-tier Europe, which has the eurozone currency area at its core, followed by the remaining EU member states and a third band of partner countries that could include Switzerland, Ukraine, Turkey - and Britain.

The idea is fleshed out in a paper by Roettgen and four others, including the head of a French government-linked policy centre, Jean Pisani-Ferry, published this week by the Bruegel think tank.

The idea could irk Turkey, which is a longstanding candidate for EU membership. Accession talks have dragged, with a recent crackdown by Ankara in the wake of a failed coup raising new questions about the country's suitability for membership.

But Roettgen said the model would offer Turkey a more realistic medium-term perspective.

"An element of honesty could be brought into the relationship," he said.

Related stories

Latest news

Trump administration reverses transgender bathroom protections

The Trump administration on Wednesday withdrew Obama-era guidance about the use of school and university bathrooms by transgender students, local media reported.

Several Dakota Access Pipeline protesters arrested as deadline passes

Several people at a camp protesting against a controversial oil pipeline in the US state of North Dakota were arrested Wednesday after a deadline to vacate the land passed, local media reported.

Germany deports 18 rejected asylum seekers to Afghanistan

A Kabul-bound plane with 18 Afghan migrants on board took off from Munich Airport late Wednesday, its passengers becoming the third group of rejected asylum seekers to be deported by German authorities back to Afghanistan.

New Romanian justice minister named after anti-corruption protests

Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu has named a former judge to be the country's next justice minister, after the previous office holder resigned under pressure from mass anti-corruption protests.

Le Pen's chief of staff indicted in European Parliament jobs probe

The chief of staff of Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate for president in upcoming French elections, was indicted Wednesday over allegations of irregular reimbursements from the European Parliament, a judicial source told dpa.

Montenegrin police extradites Miodrag Jovic to Croatia

Montenegrin police reported on Wednesday that they extradited to Croatia Miodrag Jovic (48) from Glina, after whom Interpol Zagreb issued an arrest warrant.

Croatian minister attends CoMoCoSEE conference in Albania

Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Korzinek participated in a third conference of the Council of Ministers of Culture of South-Eastern Europe (CoMoCoSEE) that took place in Tirana on February 21-22.

New Somali president asks al-Shabaab to surrender to 'help' country

Somalia's newly elected President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo asked Islamist terrorist group al-Shabaab to surrender in order "to help rebuild" the conflict-ridden East African nation.

Serbia's EU negotiator says minority rights neglected

The head of the Serbia's European Union accession negotiation team, Tanja Miscevic, said in Novi Sad on Wednesday that minority rights had been neglected for many years and added that positive results in that regard cannot be achieved over night, the Beta news agency has reported. 

Scientists: Nearby star's 7 rocky planets are "best bet" for life

New analysis of telescope data shows a dwarf star just 40 light years from Earth has at least seven apparently rocky planets with potential to harbour water, an international team of scientists announced Wednesday.

Croatian PM receives EIB Vice-President

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic met on Wednesday with European Investment Bank (EIB) Vice-President Dario Scannapieco for talks on the bank's contribution to a new investment cycle in Croatia and its support to the Croatian government to implement key projects, a press release from the government's office said.

Bomb explodes outside police officer's home in Northern Ireland

A bomb exploded outside a police officer's home in Northern Ireland on Wednesday but there were no immediate reports of casualties.