What will this mean for business management in the UK and EU?
Politics and business may be strange bedfellows, but the two are intertwined in too many ways for either to ever be free of the other. So, when the British people decided to vote, by a thin margin, to exit the European Union, there was a collective gasp and gulp by many international business management teams across the globe.
While the United States won’t be as directly impacted as businesses in the UK and EU, there will be some consequences of the fallout after the so-called Brexit. But the businesses likely to pay the harshest consequences are those in Germany.
Germany has long been the economic lynchpin for all economies in the European Union. When other countries didn’t fare so well, Germany was there to, literally in some cases, bail them out. Refugee crisis? Same thing. Thus, Germany’s leadership took a strong and hardline stance on Brexit, harshly opposing the referendum because of the potential economic impact it could have across the EU … and because a lot of that impact will be felt the most inside Germany and have to be absorbed by German business.
Recognizing the position the Germans are in, Pro-Brexit Brits are doubling down, making bold threats against Germany’s political and economic interests if they dare to cause trouble for a transitioning United Kingdom. These Pro-Brexit leaders warn that Germany and the rest of the EU, by extension, will pay a “high price” for daring to make the Brexit transition difficult.
Even British Prime Minister Theresa May has taken a harder stance, first saying it would be an act of “calamitous self-harm” for Germany and other EU members to “punish the UK” for Brexit. Paradoxically, May also said she hopes Britain and Germany can become “good neighbors” even as the former plans to rework all economic dealings with the latter.
Pro-Brexit British leadership have been long on lip service toward continued strong economic relationships with EU members, and they are putting any blame for anything less than great trade agreements squarely on the shoulders of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. They claim any failure on the part of the EU to enthusiastically negotiate with an independent Britain will be tantamount to intentionally trying to punish Britain for leaving the EU.
For the various politicians involved and their supporters, this is certainly an “eye of the beholder” scenario. If you’re pro-Brexit, you are watching closely for any sign of German antipathy, and if you’re pro-Remain, you’re likely sympathetic to the plight in which Merkel and company now find themselves.
But that leaves the business leaders of the various industry leaders in both countries to be the ones who actually accomplish the hard work of making any deals actually work. Each side will be looking out for its best interest, even as their political leaders are the ones fighting over who makes the rules.