German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble urged the 27 member countries of the European Union that will remain after Britain quits to take an “intergovernmental approach” to tackling problems if they see the European Commission not getting involved.
Britain voted 52 to 48 percent on June 23 in favour of quitting the European Union – a decision that has rocked global financial markets, thrown British politics into turmoil and raised concerns about the EU’s future prospects.
Schaeuble told Welt am Sonntag newspaper that now was a time for pragmatism: “If the Commission doesn’t get involved, then we should take the matter into our own hands and solve problems between governments,” he said.
- EU referendum: Brexit or no, Europe’s “realists” will contain “utopians”
- Brexit would shut UK out of single market: German Finance Minister Schaeuble
- Get houses in order before seeking solidarity: Germany to emerging nations
- France,Germany at odds over pace of EU bank reform
- Ten EU nations to press ahead with transaction tax
- Germany for finance mkt transaction tax
Watch Video: What’s making news
“This intergovernmental approach proved successful during the euro zone crisis,” he added.Asked if European institutions should be reformed, Schaeuble said that would take too long and it would not be possible to change European treaties quickly.
He said action should be taken urgently, adding: “The usual Brussels time frames are too long.”
“You soon realise if the Commission isn’t managing something or if we’re getting bogged down in the (European) Council. And that’s when governments have a responsibility,” Schaeuble said, adding that he was very annoyed last year that politicians in Brussels took so long to react to the migrant crisis.
Asked if he was calling for the European Commission to be weakened, Schaeuble said: “Not at all. I’m just saying that it and we need to be more pragmatic and faster.”
He said he was in favour of further integration of the EU in general but now was not the time for that due to growing demagogy and Euro scepticism.On whether it was necessary for Brussels to restore some responsibilities to member states, Schaeuble said pressing problems needed to be tackled quickly so Europe could not set about making complex treaty changes, which would need to be unanimously agreed.
Asked if Europe could not forget the Lisbon Treaty that is effectively the EU’s constitution, Schaeuble said: “No, but in cases of doubt, greater emphasis should be placed on intergovernmental relations.”
He said Europe needed to quickly prove that it was capable of functioning and the EU needed to show it could quickly solve some key problems to regain the trust of citizens.
Asked whether he stood by his statement made before the referendum that “in is in. Out is out”, Schaeuble said he had used this wording after being asked to do so by British Chancellor George Osborne to boost the Remain camp and to show that a Brexit would be irreversible.
Turning to speculation that there could be an exit from Brexit, Schaeuble said that was a decision for the British government and the House of Commons and he demanded that they make that decision quickly.
Schaeuble said negotiations between the EU and Britain on Brexit would not be easy, but said it would not be like when Greenland exited what is now the European Union three decades ago – a move that Schaeuble said took seven years.