Germany’s business lobby has warned that German firms will reconsider their trade links with the UK if there is no clarity on a Brexit deal by March.
The UK imports more goods from Germany and exports more goods to Germany than any other country in the EU.
Joachim Lang, head of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), told the BBC there was an “urgency” for German companies that operate in the UK to have a greater level of certainty on the final Brexit deal.
The BDI, which represents the interests of 100,000 businesses with 8m employees, recently asked its members to prepare for a “very hard Brexit”.
After meeting with the UK government last month, Lang said that German businesses would require 12 months to prepare for a “no deal” scenario.
He made clear that Britain’s withdrawal from the EU is highly complex:
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If you look at 20,000 legal Acts that the United Kingdom is going to leave, 750 international agreements that will be no longer valid – this is causing a lot of headaches all over Europe and it should also cause this headache [in the UK].
Lang said German businesses want more details on what a Brexit deal will look like before the UK formally leaves the EU:
We cannot wait until March 2019, that’s obvious.You need to be prepared, otherwise the damage will be much bigger, and in these contingency, plans, one year ahead – that’s pretty normal, so we need decisions by March 2018.
“In certain sectors the damage is already close”, he made clear, pointing to German manufacturers that source products from the UK.
Lang added that although the BDI never supported Brexit, the UK’s departure from the EU is now imminent and businesses need assurances.
There is no doubt that we regret the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. We all want to do business, and we want to go on doing business. If it is the will [of the UK] to leave the European Union, we need to reduce the damages that can be caused by the Brexit on both sides of the Channel.