BERLIN, July 18 (Reuters) - The future head of the European Commission said she would be minded to grant Britain an extension to talks on its exit from the EU if London gave good grounds, adding that an orderly departure was important to launch future ties on a good footing.
In an interview with a consortium of European newspapers, including Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would first wait for a new British prime minister to be chosen and then seek talks.
“We don’t want a hard Brexit. That is not good for either side. We have a good exit agreement,” she said, referring to a deal that has been rejected by both candidates to succeed British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Turning to Italy’s deficit, von der Leyen said the finance rules enshrined in the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact had to be respected, but added: “There is much flexibility in the rulebook that can be used more fully to enable investment-led growth.”
Reporting by Thomas Escritt Editing by Paul Carrel