Wake-up call for more unity and cooperation

Markus Kerber, Director General of the BDI © Christian Kruppa

Markus Kerber, Director General of the BDI, on the outcome of the British referendum.

“We deeply regret the outcome of this referendum. The result is an urgent warning to all of us Europeans to make the EU more competitive,” said Markus Kerber, Director General of the BDI on Friday in Berlin in response to the outcome of the British referendum. “The decision deals a heavy blow to the United Kingdom itself, to the EU and to Germany – both in political and economic terms.”    

According to Kerber, relations with the United Kingdom will have to start from scratch. “The guiding principle of the exit negotiations will be to limit damage to our business, our employees and their income as far as possible. Tough negotiations with the UK will dominate the EU agenda for the next two years. A whole range of issues, such as access to the European single market, regulatory standards and professional mobility need re-negotiation.   

According to BDI estimates, the prospect of losing access to the European single market is a “heavy blow” to the British economy and German companies based in Britain. “We expect business with the UK to nosedive in the coming months,” said Kerber. “Bilateral trade will inevitably suffer and new direct investments by Germany in the UK are extremely unlikely.”  

Almost 400,000 people work in UK branches of German companies. “These employees face an uncertain future and will expect speedy negotiations with a positive outcome,” says Kerber. According to the BDI, the branches most affected by the Brexit vote are the automobile and energy sectors, telecommunications, electronics manufacturers, metal production, retail and financial service providers.  

The BDI now expects clear signals from the EU and from national governments for greater unity and cooperation. “In Brussels, Paris and Berlin – we need all hands aboard to make the EU stronger and more appealing for all EU citizens,” Kerber demanded.  

The EU is the engine of growth and employment in Europe: “We have to make the appeal of the European idea more tangible by deepening the single market in sectors like digital services, the capital market and the energy union. We must also push ahead with the European investment offensive:   investments in modern transport, energy and communication networks are urgently needed to liven up the European single market and create more jobs.”