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Bürgermeister Olaf Scholz © Senatskanzlei

Scholz says Brexit "is not good news"

Less Europe is not the solution, says Olaf Scholz, Mayor of Hamburg, on Brexit win

Olaf Scholz, Mayor of Hamburg, has expressed disappointment with the result of Britain’s EU referendum. Commenting on the “leave” bloc’s win, he said: “It truly is not good news that a slight majority of Britons has voted against remaining in the EU. However, complaining does not help anyone. The purpose of politics is to make the best out of a difficult situation. In this case, that means continuing the close and important partnership with Britain. The United Kingdom is leaving the EU, but remains part of the European family. We have to make new ties when old ones tear.”

Negotiations will take a while

Commenting on the Brexit win, Dr. Malte Heyne, Managing Director of IHK Nord (Chamber of Commerce Nord), said: “We regret the decision, but we respect it”, adding, “Europe must look ahead and find a new ‘modus vivendi’ with Britain, one of north Germany’s most important trade partners.” No immediate changes are expected on the day of the announcement and the negotiations will probably take a longer period of time, Heyne said.

“Our companies that operate abroad will need long-term legal security for their investments and business activities and a minimum of bureaucracy.” The upcoming exit negotiations between the EU and the island nation would therefore have to come with interim deadlines and with a sense of proportion to keep negative effects on the north German economy low, Heyne urged.

Example cannot be followed

Fritz Horst Melsheimer, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Hamburg, said: “The economy in Hamburg, for whom the United Kingdom is the fourth most important economic partner, regrets the wish of the majority of Britons to leave the European Union.” Now, it is crucial that Britain’s example is not followed. “We will only remain prosperous in the single market and succeed in global competition. This has to be better explained to citizens and requires structural reforms. The Brexit is a wake-up call for us also.”

New basis for trade

Dr. Hans Fabian Kruse, President of the AGA Association of Companies, said: “The north German wholesale and foreign trade regrets the Brexit and will try to cope with the consequences as good as possible. For commerce that means we need a reasonable basis for trade with Britain as quickly as possible. Deterrent conditions will only damage us. Our economic ties with the United Kingdom are and remain close. We have to relive Europe overall.”

After the initial shock

Prof. Dr. Henning Vöpel, Director and Managing Director of the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI), said: “Contrary to the markets’ expectations, the British people have voted to leave the European Union. Now, the markets must recover from this shock. After the first, panic-like reactions on stock exchanges and foreign currency markets, stability should probably set in quickly. However, today that depends on how politics in Britain and the EU react over the next days.”

In favour of a strong EU

Scholz added: “Less Europe is not the solution”, adding, “We need democratic deepening in the European Union. It must prove to be a union of residents. Many Britons opted for Brexit out of a feeling of powerlessness. They believed the promise that politics would become manageable again by withdrawing behind the fence of the nation state. The opposite is true. Only a strong European Union that is capable of acting gives us an opportunity to make globalisation good for our lives.”

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