A leaked European Union (EU) dossier has revealed the bloc’s growing concern about the economic damage Brexit will do to specific nations and regions, potentially strengthening Britain’s negotiating hand.
According to the report from the EU’s Committee of the Regions, Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Ireland would be worst affected.
These nations are worried that their exports to the UK will fall if the EU does not offer a good trade deal, that returning migrants will cause a rise in unemployment, and that not being able to fish in UK waters will harm coastal areas.
The report is based on data extracted from questionnaires submitted by local officials throughout the bloc, obtained by Politico.
Tory MP Bernard Jenkin told the website: “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.”
Adding: “I think the pressure is mounting on the EU negotiators to deliver a sensible deal which disrupts as little as possible.”
Ireland is one of the most at-risk nations, because of its entrenched economic and historical links with the UK.
Michael Brennan, the official who responded on behalf of Ireland, highlighted food, maritime, and energy concerns. “Ireland imports 89 per cent of its oil products and 93 per cent of its gas from the U.K.,” he wrote.
He also explained that there is a single electricity market for the whole island of Ireland, and “post Brexit this single market will be affected and Irish energy security may be weakened”.
Many regions had concerns about their reliance on trade with the UK, with the German cities of Bremen and Berlin saying the UK was their third and fifth largest trading partner respectively.
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For Cyprus, the UK was number two, and it was the third largest trading partner for the Swedish capital of Stockholm. Murcia, in southeast Spain, sends a massive 75 per cent of exports to the UK.
According to Flanders local official Karl Vanlouwe, a post-Brexit trade deal is seen as key. “A hard Brexit will lead to 42,000 job losses, whereas a trade agreement could limit these to 10,000 jobs,” he wrote.
The U.K is the “fourth export market for Flanders with €27.66 billion” he explained, and “the Flemish road transport sector… will be very hard hit due to changes in customs, free movement of people, potentially deviating rules on health and safety, etc.”
Several regions complained about a potential end to free movement of people and the possibility of returning migrants causing an increase in unemployment on the continent.
They included eastern Slovakia and Madeira in Portugal. However, a Polish official said he welcomed the return of migrants, who would bring talent and boost the economy, he said.
The prospect of the UK taking back control its territorial fishing waters was also an area of concern for coastal regions.
Nathalie Sarrabezolles, an official from the French département of Finistère, in Brittany, wrote: “The end of the access to the British fishing areas to the Finistère fishing boats is a real economic risk, 50 per cent of the fishing activity in Brittany region… is made inside the British Exclusive Economic Zone.”
Meanwhile, the Dutch provinces of Flevoland and Overijssel predict a potential drop of 60 per cent in fishing business if they cannot access UK waters.