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Many in Europe wish to punish the UK for leaving the EU, says Luxembourg finance minister

  • Pierre Gramegna said that those with such an agenda would never admit to it.
  • He called for EU negotiators to avoid punishing London and its financial services for Brexit.

Many in Europe are looking to "punish" the U.K. for voting to leave the European Union, the finance minister of Luxembourg told CNBC on Wednesday.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Pierre Gramegna said that those with such an agenda would never admit to it.

"There are many people out there who are trying to punish the United Kingdom without saying it — if you ask them they will deny it," he said. "Let's try to be more positive, let's try to de-dramatize the whole negotiation."

European negotiators are waiting for clear instructions from their capitals to take to the second phase of the Brexit process, which is expected to begin Monday following a ministerial meeting in Brussels.

The second phase will focus on future trade links and a transitional period. One of the main issues will be the future of the City of London and whether U.K. firms will keep their passport rights or will need extra licenses to serve EU-based customers.

Gramegna called for European negotiators to avoid punishing London and its financial services for Brexit.

"Weakening London as a financial center to make sure it will not be the first financial center in the world anymore is weakening Europe," Gramegna said.

"Let's not have London drift into the Atlantic, let's make sure we have a working relationship with London."