29th Feb 2024

Germany warns UK on single market access

  • Schaeuble (l., with British finance minister George Osborne and EU competition commissioner Vestager): "Europe will also work without Britain if necessary". (Photo:

If British people vote to leave the EU, the UK would be kept out of the single market and the EU would not integrate further, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said.

"In is in. Out is out," the influential minister said in an interview with the Spiegel , a German weekly.

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"Europe would also work without Britain if necessary," he added.

He said that if Britain left the EU, it would not have free access to the single market.

“That [market access] would require the country to abide by the rules of a club from which it currently wants to withdraw," he said.

Schaeuble said a Brexit would have a profound impact on the EU.

He said it would be "a wake-up call and a warning not to continue with business as usual".

He warned that other member states, especially the Netherlands, might face copycat calls for votes to leave the EU.

In April, Dutch voters already voiced anti-EU feeling by rejecting an EU-Ukraine trade agreement in a referendum.

Schaeuble, who is considered to be one of the most pro-European politicians in Germany, said a Brexit would put the brakes on further integration.

"In response to Brexit, we couldn't simply call for more integration," he said. "That would be crude, many would rightfully wonder whether we politicians still hadn't understood [average people].”

With just two weeks to go to the UK vote on 23 June, Schaeuble said EU finance chiefs would “contain” the financial and economic consequences of either scenario.

He said that “[my] counterparts in the eurozone and I will do everything possible to contain these consequences".

"We are preparing for all possible scenarios to limit the risks," he said.

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