Future of the EU: Sir Roger Gifford
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:
Sir Roger Gifford, UK Country Head at SEB
What consequences do you think that a potential Brexit would have for the future of the EU?
I think there is a real chance that separatist groups in other major EU nations will see the UK exit as a political plus – already present in France, Holland, Germany and of course Sweden and Finland. They can take the UK’s leaving as a signal to push for greater independence elsewhere and politically this may be hard to resist. So there is a real existential question about the future direction of the EU to be considered. If the vote is close either way, the effect might be seen anyway – and possibly already has. The breakup of the whole EU structure is hard to see as it has been so successful in so many areas since the Second World War, not least for continental nations who share borders. However, a change of political direction, particularly for those countries outside the Euro, is possible.
What consequences do you think a Brexit would have for the UK in Europe?
It will consolidate some people’s view of the UK’s position as the black sheep of the flock! The UK is an important trading partner for all European countries so a trade deal would undoubtedly be done eventually and it would put the UK in the Norway or Switzerland category, probably in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) or the European Economic Area (EEA). Naturally, for areas like the financial services industry, Paris, Frankfurt and Luxembourg will be extremely keen to compete for the title of ‘financial capital of Europe’, which is likely to lead to greater barriers for London and a lower attraction of London as a result.
And what consequences do you think a Brexit would have for Sweden?
It would leave Sweden without an important ally within the European political framework – but always a strong ally in other areas!
How do you think that Anglo-Swedish business relations may be affected if Britain leaves the EU?
Any departure of the UK from the EU will probably take many years to arrange so there is unlikely to be any immediate effect in practice though there will be a lot of speculation. After a lengthy negotiation period I think the ties will remain strong but on a different footing i.e. through WTA, or EEA/EFTA and bilaterally - and this is likely to mean less easy trading and some disruption while things are sorted out. Inevitably, with the uncertainty of direction but the almost-certainty of extra bureaucracy that will be needed, there is a chance for trade relations to be interrupted.