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"The UK must finally present a clear offer"


04 Jul 2018


UK in Europe

Berlin/Brussels, July 4, 2018 - Industry in Germany and Europe urgently needs clarity on future relations between the EU and the United Kingdom. With regard to Prime Minister Theresa May's visit to Berlin, the German mechanical engineering association VDMA calls on the British side to finally state a clear and realistic offer for the time after the Brexit.

"The Brexit is already damaging the industry because companies are reluctant to invest, due to continuing uncertainty. In fact, machine exports to the United Kingdom in 2017 fell by 2 percent against the trend and in the first quarter of 2018 the decline reached almost 3 percent compared to the previous year. The British government must finally formulate clear ideas about the time after the EU withdrawal in order to limit the damage to the economy," says Karl Haeusgen, Vice President of the VDMA. "Many of the British proposals, for example on how to handle the border with Ireland, are primarily motivated by domestic policy and are incompatible with the EU's internal market. The German government must work with Prime Minister May to bring the talks to a constructive level now."

The mechanical engineering industry warns that a Brexit without a comprehensive trade agreement would seriously damage existing value chains. From the VDMA's point of view, such an agreement would have to take three points in particular into account:

  • The Brexit-decision and the uncertainty associated with it is already weighing on the UK economy. A hard Brexit in which the UK leaves the EU without an agreement on the future relations must be avoided at all costs.
  • After the Brexit, the UK must be treated by the EU as a "third country" for customs purposes. Regardless of the future contractual relationship between the UK and the EU - whether customs union or free trade agreement - trade will require customs clearance. This leads to considerable additional costs, especially for small and medium-sized industrial enterprises. Customs bureaucracy must generally be simplified, for example through self-assessment.
  • For the commissioning and assembly of machines, components and systems, fitters usually have to travel to the customer in the United Kingdom. Work at subsidiaries in the United Kingdom also regularly requires the posting of German employees to the British plant and vice versa. Free access for fitters from the EU to Great Britain and the freedom to send employees to their own offices abroad must be guaranteed.



The VDMA represents more than 3200 companies in the medium-sized mechanical and plant engineering sector. With 1.35 million employees in Germany and a turnover of 226 billion euros (2017), the sector is the largest industrial employer and one of Germany's leading industrial sectors overall.


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