Future of the EU: Gunilla Banér
16 May 2016
The big question on everyone’s lips is soon to be decided - is The UK remaining in or exiting the EU? On 23 June, the UK goes to vote and the outcome is still uncertain. The LINK asked three prominent Members of the SCC about their perspective:
Gunilla Banér, Managing Director at Kreab
What consequences do you think that a potential Brexit would have for the future of the EU?
Britain would give up its influence in the EU, and that would be negative for both Britain and the EU. It would inject instability into the continent, at a time when we need more stability, not less. It could encourage nationalist movements in other countries, and lead to further fragmentation. When other parts of the world are growing and becoming more competitive in the global market place, the EU does not want to start disintegrating. Moreover, to deal with some of the huge social and political challenges within Europe and at its borders, we need to strengthen cooperation, not weaken it.
What consequences do you think a Brexit would have for the UK in Europe?
Britain needs a clear plan for how it would promote its interests in Europe when it has walked out of the Board Room. Generally, not being present when decisions are being made is a risky move. The EU will continue to write the rule book for doing business in Europe, but Britain will no longer have a say in that if it leaves. Companies looking to invest in Europe will be more likely to choose a market that is fully integrated in the single market and that benefits from the 50+ free trade agreements that the EU has with third countries.
And what consequences do you think a Brexit would have for Sweden?
Sweden will continue to be integrated in the Single Market. Some companies that leave Britain because of the uncertainty that Brexit causes, may consider relocating to other EU countries, maybe also Sweden. However, Sweden is not hoping to attract investment off the back of a British exit from the EU. It would much rather keep its important friend, ally and trading partner in the EU, and build together on the certainty that that offers.
How do you think that Anglo-Swedish business relations may be affected if Britain leaves the EU?
Sweden and Britain have been conducting commerce for many hundreds of years, successfully and profitably. We share common values in support of free and fair trade. Sweden will continue this tradition whether Britain leaves or remains as a member of the EU, and will always seek to have strong commercial and cultural ties to the UK. However, Britain will no longer be a member of the Single Market in which both countries now participate, and therefore there will be uncertainty amongst Swedish exporters and investors as to whether barriers to trade and investment will arise in the future. Uncertainty is seldom good for business.
Sweden will also miss the positive impact that Britain has on decision making in the EU. We are often aligned on important issues, and together and with other like-minded nations, we are able to shape decisions in the EU according to commonly held positions and interests. If Britain left, we would lose a very important ally in the most important institution governing the growth and development of our shared continent.