How would the EU respond if the British voted to leave theEuropean Union ? German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has stated that he rejects a further deepening of integration in Europe. "In response to Brexit , we couldn't simply call for more integration," the politician, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union, told SPIEGEL in an interview. "That would be crude, many would rightfully wonder whether we politicians still hadn't understood." Even in the event that only a small majority of British voters reject a withdrawal, "we would have to see it as a wakeup call and a warning not to continue with business as usual," Schäuble said.
The British will head to the polls on June 23 to vote on whether their country will remain a member of the EU. Opinion polls currently show a neck-and-neck race, with the outcome of the vote still completely open.
In the interview, to be released on Saturday in the next issue of SPIEGEL, which includes 23 pages published in English, the finance minister warns that a British withdrawal from the EU could also negatively impact Britain's partner countries. "But 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."
Schäuble warned that a copycat effect would also be possible if Britain leaves the EU, and that other countries might follow. "That cannot be ruled out," he said. "How, for example, would the Netherlands react, as a country that has traditionally had very close ties to Britain?" But the German finance minister said he did not fear the EU would face an existential crisis in the wake of a possible Brexit. "Europe will also work without Britain if necessary."
The minister also warned the British that they may suffer from the economic aftermath of an EU exit. The country is economically so tightly interwoven with its EU partners that "it would be a miracle if there were no economic drawbacks following a British withdrawal."
Schäuble also ruled out the possibility Britain could again enjoy advantages of the single market, similar to the ways non-EU members Switzerland and Norway do, after leaving the EU. "It would require the country to abide by the rules of a club from which it currently wants to withdraw." Brexit, he said, would be a decision against the single market. "In is in. Out is out," Schäuble said.