As major European cities continue to use Brexit uncertainty to try to lure business from the City of London, the people of Frankfurt are bracing for major changes and some fear Brexit could “wash away the city’s fascination”.
Daniel Cohn-Bendit, 72, has known the city for 50 years and is nervous about what the future holds.
He said: “That there are 30 per cent migrants here and 80 per cent of all citizens feel comfortable is a fascination and makes Frankfurt attractive to me.
“Frankfurt has retained an interesting mix of people. But now a shift of balance is threatening. Thousands of bankers will come to the city on the eve of the EU’s exit from the UK.
“The city centre will then become unaffordable for most people because prices are rising, so Frankfurt is no longer multicultural in social terms, and Brexit could wash away the city’s fascination.”
Estimates on the number of bankers expected to arrive in Frankfurt differ vastly, with as many as 20,000 jobs expected to be brought to the city as a result of Britain’s EU exit.
Frankfurt is currently home to around 730,000 people, making it a relatively small city in comparison with London – but the influx of bankers could put a huge strain on the city’s infrastructure.
Deutsche Bank boss John Cryan has already called a major expansion of the city to accommodate the bankers and their families.
He said it needs “attractive residential areas, more theatres, restaurants and above all more international schools” in order to make the most out of Brexit.
However, Mr Cohn-Bendit doesn’t want to see his city become a centre for the wealthy.
In order to prevent this, he believes banks and companies should pay more towards the city than just their taxes.
He said: “They should further support life in the city, participate in social housing funds similar to their contribution to the fight against climate change.
“A city loses its character when it becomes socially one-dimensional.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg