(LONDON) -- The so-called "Brexit" could have a devastating impact on the entire European Union, Germany's vice-chancellor said Sunday at a news conference.
The BBC reports that Sigmar Gabriel said the EU could go "down the drain" if other countries followed the United Kingdom's lead. Britain, he added, would not get to maintain the "nice things" about being a part of the European bloc without taking responsibility.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May summoned ministers for a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the British withdrawal from the EU.
"Brexit is bad but it won't hurt us as much economically as some fear," Gabriel said, according to the BBC. "It's more of a psychological problem and it's a huge problem politically. If we organize Brexit in the wrong way, then we'll be in deep trouble, so now we need to make sure that we don't allow Britain to keep the nice things, so to speak, related to Europe while taking no responsibility."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with a number of European leaders in recent weeks in order to prepare for a September summit focused on the EU's future without Britain.
Gabriel also said Sunday that trade talks between the EU and the U.S. had "de facto failed."
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership was aimed at removing or reducing various barriers to EU-US trade. The plan has faced heavy criticism in countries including Germany and the U.K., however, with detractors saying it would be bad for jobs, consumers and the environment.
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