GERMANY needs a Brexit deal more than ever due to the economic havoc wrought by the Coronavirus pandemic, its foreign minister has admitted.
Heiko Maas said there is "more at stake today than a year ago" as the trade negotiations enter a decisive fortnight.
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His remarks came amid signs Angela Merkel is set to press other leaders – especially Emmanuel Macron – to back down from their hardline stance.
The German chancellor met Michel Barnier in Berlin today to thrash out how the pair can save the Brexit talks after nine-months of stalemate.
Mr Maas, who also saw the EU's chief negotiator, warned both sides would be "totally irresponsible" to let No Deal happen.
He said: "The coronavirus pandemic made the discussions even more difficult in every respect, but it also made an agreement even more urgent.
"A lot has happened in the past year and it must be said that maybe more is at stake today than one year ago.
"With today's health and economic challenges, people on both sides of the Channel have enough to shoulder.
"It would be totally irresponsible to burden them in this position with additional problems through a No Deal."
He added: "There are currently a lot of open questions, and if we want to make it to the finish line we must make quick progress in all these open questions.
“Our door remains open for a close and ambitious partnership with Great Britain. That is and remains our goal."
Mr Barnier's trip to Berlin was widely seen as a move to secure Mrs Merkel's blessing for him to explore further compromises.
This week the Frenchman will phone around fisheries ministers from key coastal states and ask them to soften their position.
He will also hold talks with UK negotiator David Frost and is expected to travel to London on Thursday.
EU officials are increasingly worried about France, which is still sticking to the bloc's initial demand for status quo access to UK waters.
They say Mr Macron holds the key to a compromise, but fear he could instead sink a trade deal by refusing to back down.
But eurocrats added he will come under more pressure from fellow leaders to compromise if a deal isn't in sight by a crunch EU summit next Thursday.
The PM told Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen last week that he needs to know by the crucial get-together whether an agreement is doable.
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