Thursday, 5 October 2017

German Industry Federation advises its Members to prepare for a Hard Brexit















Jane Lambert

In an article on its homepage entitled Deutsche Industrie schaut mit Sorge auf Fortgang der Brexit-Verhandlungen (German Industry views with Concern the Progress of the Brexit Negotiations) the Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie e.V. ("BDI") the Confederation of German Industry (the equivalent of the CBI) warned its members with interests in the UK to prepare for a very hard Bexit ("einen sehr harten Austritt Großbritanniens aus der Europäischen Union"). "Anything else would be naive," said the BDI's Director-General Joachim Lang.

There is more gloom from the Bar Council which reports that the working assumption of the Commission's art 50 Task Force is that "there will be no formal EU-UK relationship in future. Therefore, following UK withdrawal, no CJEU, no single market, end of application of 4 freedoms and all economic rights; no cooperation in civil and criminal justice etc. UK nationals will no longer be EU citizens" (see Brussels News Issue 137 5 Oct 2017). It follows that "no protection will be given to secondary establishment and cross-border services. Thus, if a UK lawyer is appearing in a case pending before the CJEU at withdrawal date (WD), the client must change lawyer."

The Bar Council reports that the Task Force is aiming for an orderly winding down in judicial cooperation as in other areas. "The EU regime will cease to apply to the UK as at the date of withdrawal. The UK will be starting with a blank sheet, even with the Lugano Convention etc, since it is not a signatory in its own right."

I regret to say that I share the BDI and Bar Council's gloom because I do not think that the remaining 27 states can accept a withdrawal agreement that binds them as a matter of European Union law but not us.  German and other exporters will no doubt lose some sales if tariff barriers and customs formalities return at the border but they will not lose their market altogether. Where else are we Brits to get our cars, white goods, sparkling wine and luxury leather goods than the EU27? The Bar Council concludes that "the harsh reality is that the clock ticking is a far more serious problem for the UK than it is for the EU, whatever committed Brexiteers may wish to believe."

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