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Germany warns of ‘brutal damage’ to its industries as Brexit deal condemned

Brexit: Germany 'will support agreement' says spokeswoman

Many in Europe were relieved that a deal was reached with just days remaining, as business had warned of the catastrophic consequences of a no deal Brexit. One country with more at stake than most was Germany, whose cars are exported to the UK more than any other country. About one in seven cars made in Germany are sold in Britain, meaning a trading arrangement was clamoured for in Berlin in order to prevent a crisis in the country’s automotive industry. But, despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s positivity, concern remains in Germany.

German magazine Der Spiegel wrote in the aftermath of the trade deal late last month that the deal agreed is still comparable to a hard Brexit.

It added that “brutal consequences” were around the corner and that “the new year will be a hard wake up call.”

The magazine also said “the damage to companies will be enormous, but it is ordinary citizens who will pay the highest price.”

In 2016, Britain was the largest single export market for German manufacturers, who sold 800,000 new cars there, or 20 percent of their overall global exports.

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Felix Schoenherr of Werte Union – a group within Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union that has previously criticised the German Chancellor – told earlier this year of how the German car industry wants to hold on to British trade.

He said in March: “It’s mainly exports, of course the UK is an important market, so we are dependent on that trade relationship as well as our trade with the US, also to China. So this is an issue.

“I think from a German economic perspective the UK is a very important trade partner, and we should try to get an agreement on both sides.”

Despite some pessimism in Germany, others in Europe’s automotive industry breathed a sigh of relief in the wake of the Brexit trade deal.

The European Automobile Manufacturers Association, known by its French acronym ACEA, welcomed the deal.

As did Professor Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of Germany’s Center for Automotive Research.

However, Professor Dudenhoeffer said it would be the UK’s automotive industry that will take the biggest hit.

He said: “The British auto industry was badly damaged by Brexit (worries that no deal would be agreed and WTO tariffs would have to be charged), but also this year by Corona.

“Without a trade deal, one would have expected another dramatic collapse in the U.K. auto industry.

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“The Brexit deal can slow the crash, but after a brief recovery after Corona, Britain will have to reckon with a further creeping dismantling of its auto industry.”

In other European countries, there was a varied reaction to the Brexit trade deal.

Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera said that the Prime Minister Boris Johnson “needed the deal”, arguing that his failings during the coronavirus pandemic meant he could not afford another setback.

They said: “His poor management of the pandemic has devastated his popularity and the most recent emergency, caused by the new strain of the virus, has removed all space for manoeuvre.

“Now he has something concrete to show the country and will do everything possible to sell the deal as a victory for London and the full recovery of national sovereignty.”

Meanwhile, French newspapers praised a “historic deal” with Le Monde saying “It is decidedly very good news.”

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