Germany's finance minister has backed a 'hard Brexit' negotiating stance ahead of a summit in Brussels. He has also said that Germany should not pay more money to the EU to cover the gaps once the UK leaves.
Great Britain should not expect to have advantages other European Union countries do not have German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said on Saturday ahead of a summit in Brussels with the 27 remaining states.
The United Kingdom should not expect to have special advantages once negotiations over its departure from the European Union are over, Schäuble said in an interview on Saturday.
"There is no free lunch," Schäuble told the Funke Media Group, using an English expression. "Britons must know that."
Speaking ahead of a summit on Brexit negations in Brussels, Schäuble urged that a future deal should ensure that the remaining 27 EU countries are not weakened when the UK leaves.
"We don't want to weaken Britain. But we also don't want that the rest of Europe is weakened," the finance minister said. "Great Britain should not have advantages after the exit, that other countries don't have."
Germany shouldn't fill UK gaps
In the interview, Schäuble also urged for the UK to fulfill its outstanding financial commitments to the EU. At the same time, he said that his ideal scenario would not involve Germany bumping up its own contributions to the bloc after the UK leaves.
"Germany shouldn't pay more money to the EU after Brexit," Schäuble said. "The money in the EU budget must suffice - it must be spent more efficiently than now."
He added that he believes there's still room in the budget to accommodate the shortfall after Brexit.
Schäuble's comments are in line with a speech made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week in which she warned the UK not to expect to enjoy EU rights after Brexit.
She also insisted that the bloc would only begin to agree on future ties with Britain after agreeing on a deal for the UK to formally divorce the EU. British Prime Minister Theresa May said that Merkel's remarks underscored how difficult the negotiations will be.
EU member states are meeting in Brussels without the UK on Saturday and are expected to adopt guidelines for negotiations on Brexit.
rs/jlw (AFP, dpa, Reuters)