While there are many months or even years before the UK public will vote on whether to change their country’s future by exiting the European Union, German companies are already adding the numbers to see how much they stand to lose if the exit becomes a reality.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, fresh out of winning the general elections, is scheduled to reach Berlin on Friday as he ends a tour of four countries in Europe and is forecasted to discuss the same change ideas in UK’s relationship with the European Union with German Chancellor Angela Merkel as he did with the leaders of The Netherlands, France and Poland. The government’s program gave high priority status to the legislation needed to allow a referendum on EU membership by 2017 when it was announced this Wednesday. For Germany, the United Kingdom is the most important European commerce partner, and second only to the United States, as of last year. Also, around one in five autos produced in the largest European economy – with a value of around 18 billion euros – reached British drivers, making it the top export destination for Germany’s auto industry since 2001,according to figures from the VDA industry group.
A British exit could mean German car exports going down by around two percent for the period to 2030. “It’s beneficial for the U.K. to remain an active and influential member of the EU,” comments Peter Schwarzenbauer, a BMW AG board member. In the UK, BMW has a Mini factory in Oxford and Volkswagen AG’s Bentley brand is headquartered in the northern town of Crewe. Even auto parts supplier and engineering company Robert Bosch GmbH has started weighing the implications of the “Brexit” – the UK being the fourth-largest export market for the biggest auto parts maker in the world.