Austria says wrong if Germany, Italy, France dominate Brexit debate

September 9, 2016 2:24 PM EDT

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BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - Germany, France and Italy should not be allowed to dictate the European Union's response to Britain's planned exit from the bloc, Austria's finance minister said, adding he was surprised how relaxed the EU response to the vote has been.

Hans Joerg Schelling said it was the "wrong way" for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, the leaders of the euro zones biggest economies, to dominate the Brexit discussion.

"Small countries should not be overruled," he said.

The three heads of government met separately from their European peers last month in the aftermath of Britain's June 23 referendum in which a majority voted in favor of leaving the European Union.

Schelling told reporters on the sidelines of a European finance minister meeting in Bratislava that he was lobbying for a special meeting of European finance and economy ministers - or Ecofin - on Brexit without his British counterpart.

He added many of his peers had responded positively to such an idea, adding that he was surprised at how relaxed preparations for Brexit negotiations in Europe have been so far.

He said such an Ecofin should prepare the European Council, comprised of the heads of government of the European Union, for its negotiating position with Britain in three scenarios: Britain paying the same amount into the EU budget as before, a smaller amount or nothing at all.

(Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Alison Williams)



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