Brexit may cost Germany up to one billion euros, the country’s European Commissioner has said.
Günther Oettinger, who serves as Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, said that remaining EU nations, including Germany, will have to increase their contributions to the European Union (EU) budget after Britain leaves – or else the budget will have to be cut.
Speaking to Bild am Sonntag, Mr. Oettigner said: “If the budget remains the same, other countries will have to help out [paying for Britain’s share].”
The alternative, he added, was to “cut the budget by the volume of Britain’s share”.
A third option, slightly reducing the EU budget while also asking EU states to pay more, could cost Germany around one billion euros.
Mr. Oettinger also rejected the idea of introducing a specific “EU tax” to pay for the contribution. “We want to develop the current system by which each Member State transfers a certain percentage of the gross national income to [the EU],” he said.
His words mark a dramatic change of tone from August last year when he raised doubts over whether Brexit would even happen.
“It is possible that public opinion will tip if the economic situation in the wake of the Brexit vote worsens,” Mr. Oettinger said, adding: “In any case, I wouldn’t place any major bets on Brexit.”
The decision to appoint Mr. Oettinger to the EU’s human resources portfolio last month was controversial, due to what some call “racist, sexist and homophobic” remarks he has made in the past.
In November 2016, he was forced to apologise for referring to Chinese people as “slitty eyes” and made disparaging remarks about women and gay marriage.
Various NGOs including Oxfam International wrote an open letter to the European Parliament telling them not to appoint him.
“Commissioner Oettinger has made racist, sexist and homophobic remarks on several occasions in the past, most recently at a speech he gave in an official capacity in Hamburg on 26 October,” the letter said.