The EU will have a huge financial black hole when Britain leaves

Brexit could tear the EU apart with other countries more likely to depart than ever, too

Brexit could leave the EU much worse off and needing to restructure its spending, a commissioner has said.

While Brits have been worrying about how the country will survive post-Brexit, the EU has also realised the divorce could be painful.

It will contribute to a 20 billion euro (£17.5 billion) financial black hole in the EU’s annual budget when Britain quits in March 2019.

EU Budget Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said that as well as Brexit, rising costs in defence would also contribute to the total.

He said: ‘We won’t have the UK with us any more, but they were net payers despite the Thatcher rebate, so we will have a gap of 10 to 11 billion euros a year.

Under Margaret Thatcher, Britain negotiated a rebate on its budget contribution, worth more than three billion euros.

Of current members, only Germany pays more money to the EU on an annual basis.

In a blog, he wrote that ‘at the same time we need to finance new tasks such as defence, internal security… The total gap could therefore be up to twice as much.’

Mr Oettinger explained that the EU could cut all rebates received by its members, but would need to take further action.

He added: ‘I am ambitious and realistic. The Brexit gap will be financed by a mix of cuts, shifting expenditure, saving, and some new sources of money.’

The situation for the EU would improve if it forces Britain to pay the 100 billion euro fee for leaving the bloc that it is demanding in Brexit negotiations.

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