Economy minister Peter Altmaier, who has been crucial in Germany’s Brexit policymaking, insisted another Article 50 extension should be used to prevent a “big crash”. He said companies with close trading links to Britain could be forced to lay-off staff if there is a hard Brexit. Theresa May is set to ask EU leaders for another Brexit delay at an emergency summit in Brussels next Wednesday.
Reacting, Mr Altmaier said: “The EU and Great Britain can and must prevent the big crash on the last few metres, because thousands of jobs are at stake! If necessary, by a sufficient extension of the withdrawal period.”
He added: “Companies with a high export to Great Britain can generally be affected. I hope, however, that this will not lead to layoffs.”
The German economy minister also revealed that he wants Britain to remain in the customs union in order to keep products cheaper in his own country.
Asked about the risk of Brexit to supermarket prices, he said: “The risk may exist with products imported from the UK, for example car parts and whisky.
“That’s why it is important for Britain to stay in the EU’s customs union.”
A recent study in Germany revealed a hard Brexit could bring a sudden end to economic growth.
The five leading economic research institutes have significantly lowered their forecast for growth in the current year from 1.9 to 0.8 percent.
“The long-term upswing of the German economy is over,” their report warns.
In a no-deal Brexit, economic growth this year and next is likely to be “significantly lower” than forecast.
The institutes, DIW, Ifo, IfW, IWH and RWI, said they will finalised their findings for March 29, “when it still seemed a hard Brexit would be avoided”.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) currently expects only 0.7 percent growth for Germany.
Yesterday, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker opened the door to a long extension if MPs reject Theresa May’s divorce deal.
He told MEPs: “If the UK is in a position of approving the withdrawal deal with a viable majority by the April 12 then the European Union would also accept an extension until the May 22.
“April 12 is the final date for possible approval. If the House of Commons does not adopt a stance before that date no short-term extension will be possible.”
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