The future looks bleak for town and cities across Europe which rely on good trade ties with Britain for trade and manufacturing, according to the report by the EU’s Committee of the Regions.
The report will likely bolster the view of some leading Brexiteers that the EU’s alleged unified approach to the second phase of Brexit talks will be subject to increasing divisions and splits as member states try to safeguard their own national economies in the face of a potential no-deal scenario.
The message has clearly reached influential leaders within the EU too – on Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron warned the EU27 must present a “united front” or risk an outcome “unfavourable to the European Union and thus to each one of us.”
His interest in maintaining a united EU approach is perhaps unsurprising given that the French region of Hauts-de-France, where Mr Macron was born, is among the areas fearing a bad Brexit deal will hamper its car manufacturing industry.
François Decoster, an official for the Hauts-de-France region, told the EU: “In the automotive sector, there are major concerns regarding future relations with the UK, particularly on the part of the carmaker Toyota, which operates in the region. For example, 13 percent of Yaris exports in 2016 went to the UK.”
Leading Brexiteers have been quick to point out that the EU must try to strike a post-Brexit free trade deal with Britain when negotiators from London and Brussels meet later this year.
Tory MP Bernard Jenkin said: “It is highly significant that other EU member states’ authorities are beginning to engage with the consequences of a no-deal Brexit because it is something that should concern them greatly.
“I think the pressure is mounting on the EU negotiators to deliver a sensible deal which disrupts as little as possible.”
Peter Bone, Tory MP for Wellingborough, said: “The EU needs to do a deal with us much more than we need to do a deal with them.
“That’s why it is very surprising to me that we have offered £39billion to allow them to sell £70billion more goods into this country each year than we sell to them.
“There will be a lot of pressure from companies within countries within the EU for their governments to do a trade deal.
“This points out why the likelihood of a trade deal is there – because it benefits them more than us.
“Everything points to doing a proper free trade deal with us, and I’m afraid it is only the posturing of the European elites and their governments that they are actually trying to do something that is against the interests of the people in the EU.
“So if this report helps shove the EU elite to do the right thing for the European Union and trade with us on a free trade basis then that’s all the better.“
The report highlights that France and Germany, the EU’s two most influential member states, both have national concerns about losing trade ties with Britain after Brexit.
Germany fears a bad deal will harm its trade, pointing out that Britain is Berlin’s fifth biggest trading partner while it is the second biggest in Bremen, Germany’s major economic hub in the north.
Cyprus has also raised concerns about losing trade ties with the UK, highlighted by the fact that “Britain is the second trading partner … as a whole and the first one in terms of services, investment and shipping.”
Ireland’s close ties with the UK means it could be among the biggest losers if negotiators cannot agree a free trade deal.
The country’s representative Michael Brennan warned: “Ireland imports 89 percent of its oil products and 93 percent of its gas from the UK.
There has been a single electricity market for the whole of Ireland since 2007 and “post Brexit this single market will be affected and Irish energy security may be weakened.”