German politicians, industry appeal to UK to stay in EU

Source: ICIS News


LONDON (ICIS)--The leaders of three German political parties and the heads of top industry trade groups have appealed to the UK to reconsider leaving the EU.

There was no decision that could not be reversed and the UK’s door to the EU would always remain open, they said in an open letter to The Times newspaper on Friday.

The appeal was prompted not just by the economic costs of the UK’s leaving the EU on 29 March but also the political risks and the UK’s importance in maintaining peace and freedom in Europe.

“Without your great nation, this continent would not be what it is today: a community defined by freedom and prosperity,” they said in the letter.

“After the horrors of the Second World War, Britain did not give up on us,” they said.

“It has welcomed Germany back as a sovereign nation and a European power. This we, as Germans, have not forgotten and we are grateful.”

The leaders of the governing CDU and SPD parties signed, as well as the leader of the Greens.

The letter was unusual as German politicians so far refrained from directly intervening in the UK’s Brexit debate.

However, the growing worries of a “no-deal” Brexit after the UK House of Commons vote on Tuesday to reject Prime Minister Theresa May's proposed UK-EU exit deal prompted the politicians to launch the appeal, commentators said.

The letter was also signed by the heads of the country’s top industry trade group BDI and other groups, a trade union leader, as well as the CEOs of Daimler and Airbus, among others.

Meanwhile, Germany’s chemical producers’ trade group VCI urged the UK and the EU to remain in dialogue to avoid a no-deal disorderly Brexit.

But at the same time, the industry needed to be prepared for the “serious possibility of a no-deal Brexit,” VCI director general Utz Tillmann said.

“The chemical-pharmaceutical industry and its customers would be most strongly affected by a disorderly Brexit,” Tillmann said.

“A collapse of supply chains would cause damage far beyond our industry. Therefore, specific transitional solutions are essential to at least somewhat ease the most detrimental impacts. In particular, this is about supplies of medicines in the UK,” he said.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, chemical substances that were registered in the UK for distribution in the EU could be no longer simply be sold in the EU, he added.

“In order to prevent this, registrations by companies headquartered in the UK should be unilaterally recognised by the EU on a temporary basis,” he added.

The UK is the 8th largest trading partner of the German chemical-pharmaceutical industry.

According to VCI's estimates for the year 2018, German companies exported goods worth €10.2bn euros to the UK and imported chemical products to the value of €5.8bn from the UK.