Das Vereinigte Königreich ist der drittgrößte Handelspartner Deutschlands. Ein Austritt Großbritanniens hätte damit zweifellos Auswirkungen auch auf die hiesige Wirtschaft. Zwar könnte Deutschland von einem Brexit durchaus profitieren: Viele Finanzdienstleister wären wohl gezwungen, ihren Sitz in ein anderes EU-Land zu verlegen – allen voran nach Frankfurt. Doch ein Brexit hätte vor allem eines zur Folge: gestiegene Unsicherheit. Gelten EU-Standards in UK weiter? Wann kommt ein bilaterales Handelsabkommen zwischen Großbritannien und der EU? Besonders Investoren könnte dies für einige Zeit von größeren Investitionen auf der Insel abhalten.
Noch weitaus gravierender wären die politischen Folgen eines Brexits: Nicht etwa Frankreich, sondern Großbritannien ist Deutschlands engster Verbündeter in Brüssel. Beide Länder stimmen im Ministerrat am häufigsten zusammen, wenn es um wichtige politische Entscheidungen geht. Der Austritt Großbritanniens aus der EU käme zudem einer deutlichen Schwächung des ‚Nordens‘ gegenüber dem ‚Süden‘ gleich.
Am meisten fürchtet man sich in Deutschland aber wohl vor einem Präzedenzfall, der bestehende Fliehkräfte in der EU weiter anfachen könnte. Deutschland – im Herzen Europas gelegen und der größte Profiteur des Binnenmarkts – hätte im Falle eines Auseinanderdriftens der EU mehr zu verlieren als die anderen.
Unser Public Affairs-Experte Florian Wastl bewertet in der neuen Kompaktanalyse von MSL Germany die Folgen eines möglichen Brexits für Deutschland. Dabei legt er besonderes Augenmerk auf die strategischen Auswirkungen eines EU-Austritts Großbritanniens.
What Brexit would mean for Germany
Uncertain outlook and a kick-start for Frankfurt?
The United Kingdom is Germany’s third largest trading partner. If it was to leave the European
Union, repercussions would be felt across the German economy. The most imminent would be
uncertainty. Would a bilateral trade deal between the UK and the EU be in place in time for
Brexit? What would it entail? For instance, would EU standards continue to apply in the UK?
And would the bilateral deal be as favourable as current arrangements? These questions would
need to be answered quickly, although trade between the two countries would probably remain
unaffected in the immediate aftermath of a potential leave vote. German investors may start to
look elsewhere sooner. A country dropping out of the world’s largest single market would be a
less safe, and therefore less attractive, place to invest. Investors need certainty to minimize risk.
They would not find it in the UK in the aftermath of a Brexit vote.
Ironically, Germany could also benefit from Brexit, although the extent of this tends to be
exaggerated in the German media. Large parts of Europe’s financial services industry are based
in the City of London and regulated by the British financial services regulatory body. Under
Brexit, they would find themselves outside of the EU, and companies with sizeable European
operations may be forced to relocate at least some of their London-based staff to other EU
countries. As Europe’s second financial city and seat of the European Central Bank, Frankfurt
would seem to be the obvious place for many of them to move to. It is estimated that as many
as 10,000 jobs could migrate from London to Frankfurt as a result of Brexit. However, claims by
some in the German media that Frankfurt could overtake London to become Europe’s new
financial capital are vastly overstated.
The political fallout: unsettling and destabilizing
Some Europhiles have been delighting that Brexit could finally get rid of a major obstacle to
further European integration. However, such rejoicing is not just misplaced, it is also mistaken.
The political fallout of a UK exit would be significant, and the drawbacks would far outweigh
the benefits. The UK and Germany are close allies in the European Council and Council of
Ministers. They tend to agree on key issues like free trade, competitive markets, fiscal
responsibility, etc. – and they often vote together. A British exit would see Germany – as well
as the Netherlands and the Nordic countries – lose a key ally and big hitter in the Council. So
far the big four (France, Germany, Italy, and the UK) have been equally split between North and
South. Without the UK, the balance would tip permanently in favour of the South.
Even more serious is that Brexit could set a dangerous precedent which could threaten the
cohesion of the European Union altogether. Although – like in other member states – support
for the EU is on the wane, Germans still believe in the Union as bringing peace, stability and
prosperity. For a country right at the centre of the EU and highly dependent on exports, this is
understandable and – together with the EU’s founding myth of Franco-German reconciliation –
goes some way to explaining why there are still more calls for deeper rather than less European
integration in Berlin. It is unfathomable for most Germans why anyone, or any country, would
want to leave the EU. A leave vote would be deeply unsettling for many in Germany.
Florian Wastl heads MSL Germany’s corporate and public affairs team in
Berlin. He has over ten years of experience in communications and
specializes in guiding international corporations through the German
political and media landscapes. Prior to joining MSLGROUP in 2011,
Florian held a number of other communications positions, including as
press spokesperson and at the British Cabinet Office.