With just over three weeks to go until the referendum that will decide whether the United Kingdom remains within the European Union, Europe’s leading companies have reiterated the dangers of Brexit, saying it “would reduce prosperity”.
The European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT), a forum made up of the CEOs of Europe’s 50 top industrial and technology companies, among them Spain’s Inditex, Iberdrola and Telefónica, have written an open letter highlighting the importance of a united Europe.
Inditex, Iberdrola, Telefónica, along with banks Santander and Sabadell and construction company Ferrovial are Spain’s leading representatives in the United Kingdom
Rejecting the fear campaigns of both sides in the run-up to the referendum, the ERT’s letter echoes the more reasoned approach taken by the Better Together campaign led by the UK’s three main parties ahead of the referendum on Scottish independence last year.
“This could be one of the biggest opportunities for prosperity in Europe: we need to act in unison to progress,” reads the ERT’s missive. The organization’s members have a combined turnover of more than €2 trillion a year, spend more than €55 billion on R+D, and employ some 6.8 million Europeans.
Spain is represented in the ERT by Pablo Isla, Ignacio Sánchez Galán and José María Álvarez-Pallete, the CEOs of Inditex, Iberdrola and Telefónica respectively. Along with banks Santander and Sabadell and construction company Ferrovial, they are Spain’s leading representatives in the United Kingdom.
Accepting that “Europe can and should improve”, the letter warns against ignoring the EU’s strengths, as well as underscoring the importance of two of Brussels’ key objectives, which in turn are the Achilles heel of the Brexit campaign: competitiveness and policies to boost exports and access to overseas markets. The majority of independent experts say that the United Kingdom would lose in both areas if it opted to leave the EU.
The ERT points out that the EU is the world’s biggest economy, ahead of the United States and China, with a 16% market share of global trade. It adds that some 36 million jobs throughout Europe depend on trade; protecting them is one of the main arguments of those arguing in favor of the United Kingdom remaining in the EU. Four of Britain’s main trading partners, Germany, The Netherlands, France and Ireland are EU members and trade with them would be seriously affected by Brexit, says the ERT.
English version by Nick Lyne.