A vote looms next Thursday overseas in which citizens will vote whether the United Kingdom should ditch its membership in the European Union. Former German minister of economics, KT zu Guttenberg, who served under Chancellor Angela Merkel, said if the outcome is for the U.K. to leave the EU, the implications would be “severe.”
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Aside from igniting global financial-market turmoil, one of the biggest consequences could be the need to renegotiate trade policies between EU members and the U.K.
“Germany would be hard hit as the main trading partner of the U.K. So would be the Netherlands, and so would be Ireland,” Guttenberg said in an interview with FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo on Wednesday. “The dis-integration process we’re already facing in the European Union would just continue, which would be a sheer disaster.”
He continued by saying there would be few nations in the EU that would “win” from a “leave” decision.
“The trade aspect is especially severe and serious for Germany. The U.K. is the third-largest trading partner. The U.K. was one of the players that would align with Germany when it come to the question of finding a minority rights in the EU when other came up to somehow soften free-trade agreements and other such things,” he said.
Renegotiating those pacts would not be a quick process, and experts have estimated it could take upwards of two years to unwind the U.K. from the European Union.
In addition to economic woes, a “leave” vote would cause more volatility with the migrant crisis as EU nations struggle with the thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing their home countries, and heightened terrorism concerns.
“We do need partners for an unresolved topic so far: The refugee crisis will continue,” Guttenberg said. “We might have a pause at the very moment, but others will come. We will have climate-change refugees, we will have others coming from Africa to the EU, and of course that has led to even more anti-EU sentiment across the European Union.”
If the U.K. exits, it could spark a trend among other nations who view their membership in the bloc as unfavorable.
“Regardless, and this is the crux of the issue, Europe will be weaker,” he said.