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Austrian Finance Minister: Britain Will Remain an EU Member | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling talks to the media as he arrives for a cabinet meeting in Vienna, Austria June 21, 2016, Reuters

Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling told a German newspaper he expected Britain to remain a member of the European Union despite the June 23 referendum in which Britons voted to quit the bloc.

Schelling also said the EU should respond to the referendum result by reforming itself and by focusing on key issues such as the single market, climate change and security while leaving member states to deal with other topics.

“Britain will remain a member of the EU in the future,” he was quoted as saying in an English excerpt of an interview due to be published in Handelsblatt on Tuesday.

“In five years, there will still be 28 member states,” he said, noting that the impact of the Brexit vote on companies and financial markets had shocked Britain.

Unlike Hadelsblatt’s evaluation, British finance minister George Osborne is expected to meet heads of major banks on Tuesday to discuss how the country should respond to the decision to leave the European Union.

“I have had numerous conversations with various business leaders and indeed leaders of financial institutions over the last 10 days,” Osborne told parliament.

“Tomorrow I am meeting the heads of some of the major banks as well to discuss how we proceed.”
Osborne said the UK’s public finances would be impacted by a cyclical downturn, but that the Bank of England had the tools it needed to act against the economic cycle and boost lending.

Some banks and firms have signaled they may move operations to continental Europe to secure continued unhindered access to the EU’s single market, while the pound has been battered in currency markets amid fears of prolonged economic uncertainty.

“When you look at all of those (companies) who want to move to the EU, it’s a wake-up call for Britain not to leave in the end,” he said.

In a full version of the interview in German on Handelsblatt’s website, Schelling said another option was for Britain to remain in the EU and not even apply to quit.

The longer the uncertainty over Britain’s future relations with the EU lasts, Schelling said, the more unnerved markets and people will become and therefore the more damaging it will be both for Europe and especially for Britain.

The contenders to replace outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron, including those who backed the ‘remain’ camp, have said they will honor the result of the vote and have ruled out holding a second referendum.

On the other hand, European shares ended a four-day winning streak on Monday, with battered banking stocks offsetting gains among mining shares boosted by higher metals prices.