Europe ‘not in good state’ ahead of Brexit vote – Wolfgang Schäuble

Finance minister says Germany’s economy would suffer ‘considerably’ if UK leaves EU

German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble: “Even if a majority decide to stay we cannot continue as before otherwise people will say ‘you’ve not understood’.” Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble: “Even if a majority decide to stay we cannot continue as before otherwise people will say ‘you’ve not understood’.” Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

 

Ahead of Thursday’s Brexit referendum, German federal finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble has admitted that “Europe is not in a good state” and that Germany’s economy would suffer “considerably” should UK voters back leaving the EU.

Dr Schäuble, one of Europe’s most seasoned politicians, said that UK voters would change the EU fundamentally on Thursday regardless of how they vote.

“Even if a majority decide to stay we cannot continue as before otherwise people will say ‘you’ve not understood’,” he said at an event in Berlin.

“Nothing is self-evident and nothing is so secure that it cannot be endangered.”

Speaking alongside the German finance minister, Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem said he would like to see Britain pushing for a greater role in the EU should it choose to stay.

“The British are not alone with their scepticism,” he said, adding it was not a reason to leave the EU but stay and build a better bloc.

However the Dutch politicians said it would foolhardy to push forward with further integration given the EU’s current state.

“Let’s not build further extensions to the European house while it is so unstable. Let’s fix what we have.”

Meanwhile Mr Schäuble reiterated his long-held view that a multi-speed Europe was the way forward, with an avant garde pushing forward with projects, to be joined by others later.

“Europe has to concentrate on the things that are important, following the British expression: first things first,” he said.

The key to building reform momentum, he said, was to find “flexible, pragmatic measures to solve the pressing problems with European solutions”.