European firms offer little support to UK
Published 26/09/2016 | 02:30
European businesses have offered Britain scant support ahead of divorce talks with the European Union.
More than 20 European business associations and companies interviewed by Reuters say they back their governments' position that Britain's banking sector can only enjoy EU market access post-Brexit if the country still follows the bloc's rules.
Britain wants a trade deal that gives London's financial district, known as the City, access to EU clients while allowing the government to restrict migration from the bloc.
Senior lawmakers in the British government have said they expect European business groups to support their position because they need access to the financial services the City provides.
But interviews with companies and trade bodies across Europe suggest the most important thing for business leaders is maintaining a single market with a single set of rules that includes the four freedoms: free movement of workers, capital, goods and services.
They are less concerned about losing access to the City of London. Companies including Deutsche Post, Daimler and Fiat Chrysler said they did not see significant disruption if the City loses free access to the EU market.
"We have taken a very clear line that the integrity of the four freedoms must be observed and that there is no cherry picking," said Markus Beyrer, Director General of BusinessEurope, the umbrella body for the biggest EU business federations.
"This is a very clear message we get from our constituency," he said.
The conflict of views gives an early indication of the difficulties facing both Britain and the EU in the divorce negotiations to come. (Reuters)