Next year Britons are expected to go to the polls for the long awaited referendum, in which they vote for our against the EU membership. But how likely is such a ‘Brexit’? And if, what would that mean for Germany and the European Union? Those and several more issues were the focus of a very interesting panel discussion, hold by the The Association of German Banks in Berlin.

Finance chief editor of the business newspaper ‘Handelsblatt’, Daniel Schäfer led through the well-attended event. Among the guests of the discussion were Alexander Radwan, Member of the Bundestag, Professor Dr. Matthias Herdegen from the University of Bonn and HSBC Trinkhaus & Burkhardt’s member of the supervisory board, Andreas Schmitz. 

The Brexit would be a “complete failure”

A recent opinion poll of the polling institute YouGov displayed an increase of Brexit proponents. This however doesn’t predict that Great Britain might opt to leave the EU. At the event in Berlin, none of the speakers foresaw the actual exit and hence doubted that it would happen anytime soon. The British economy would rather adopt a waiting attitude, because having one foot in EU’s domestic market is crucial to the British market. Leaving the EU also means a further isolation as regards to foreign policy. According to Radwan, Washington is not amused about the whole idea of a Brexit and as far as he is informed, the US would class Great Britain as a complete failure in terms of foreign policy, should the decide to leave the EU. Great Britain would be labelled “useless” in the eyes of the White House.

A crossroad for the European Union

Whereas Herdegen suggests to take up a serene attitude towards the Brexit controversy, Rawdan and Schmitz expect fuel for the Brexit-discussion amid the prevailing refugee problems. A soon as the mood really starts to boil, people would increasingly give their consent for a Brexit, says Schmitz. Radwan is of the opinion that the European Union faces a crucial decision. It is the first time ever that a disintegration is an actual issue on the agenda. ‘Less Europe’ has become a political option. When Great Britain decides to leave in the upcoming referendum, it might have an impact on other EU member states and turn into a possible course of action for them. True to the motto: ‘ We’re better off when leaving Europe’. However, Schmitz indicates, only as a united Europe, the European countries can stand the chance of persisting between the blocs USA and China.


Is Cameron pulling off a Tsipras?

The British society is driven by an erosion in their democracy. Too little is in the hands of Westminster and too much is being decided in Brussels and the European Court of Justice. In their opinion, the EU is making to many decisions, which have no link to the Economic and Monetary Union. These numerous regulations are the reasons, why the Britons are worried. Even Germans support Cameron’s reform ideas predominantly, which results of a recent FORSA survey show. But will Cameron pull off an Alexis Tsipras? Will he pay a visit to the European Parliament in the hope to get the most out of it financially? According to the participants of the panel discussion, the Prime Minister will only get souvenirs to take back home. Nevertheless, it will be of financial nature, Schmitz adds. In the end it means that Europe will have to dig deep into its pocket to convince Great Britain to stay.


Picture: © POLYAS GmbH 2015