Who pays Brexit bill? Not Germany, Bavarian says
Bavarian Finance Minister Markus Söder said it is "difficult to quantify" how much the UK's exit from the EU - commonly referred to as Brexit - will cost Germany, but warned that Berlin should not be expected to bare the brunt of the UK's missing contributions.
"We're talking about a billion in additional contributions that may fall upon us. We Germans must ensure that after the Brexit, the British contributions up to now do not fall on Germany and other net contributor countries," Söder told the German newspaper "Die Welt" on Thursday.
He also warned of a shift in the EU's balance as the bloc would comprise more southern European countries than northern ones.
"We now have more Mediterranean and less North Sea in the EU. In southern Europe, there are notions of solidarity that differ from ours," said Söder, a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
"But the policy of stability is not negotiable," he added.
Germany, France, Italy and the UK contribute roughly 50 percent of EU member states' contributions to the budget. Germany is by far the largest contributor to the EU, providing 25.82 billion euros ($28.73 billion) to the 2014 budget. The UK came in fourth, with 11.34 billion euros ($12.62 billion) in the same year.
Calling the EU's 155 billion euro budget for 2016 "bloated," Söder recommended prioritizing savings after the UK leaves the bloc.
A prudent Europe
Meanwhile, former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl on Thursday warned against a hasty political reaction in the wake of the in-or-out referendum, in which 52 percent of UK voters opted to leave the bloc.
He told the German mass-market paper "Bild" that Europe needed to take one step backwards and then slowly take two steps forward.
Kohl's remarks come two days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel the UK would not receive special treatment during negotiations to leave the EU, saying there would be no "cherry-picking" when it comes to the UK's place as an EU trade partner.
"Whoever wants to leave this family cannot expect to have no more obligations but to keep privileges," she said during a press conference.