Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

EU Has More to Lose Than U.K. If Brexit Curbs Trade, Study Finds

  • Civitas says 5.8 million EU jobs are linked to exports to U.K.
  • Ireland, Malta, Cyprus and Belgium have most at stake in talks

The European Union would be hit harder than the U.K. if Britain faced trade barriers following its decision to leave the bloc, according to a study published Friday. 

About 5.8 million jobs are linked to trade with Britain, while only 3.6 million British posts are dependent on exports to the EU, policy analyst Civitas said in a report. The EU also has a greater proportion of its labor market at stake.

The findings may provide a boost for Prime Minister Theresa May as she prepares for negotiations to take Britain out of the EU. May has said she wants to retain as much free trade as possible and impose curbs on immigration, prompting EU leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel to accuse Britain of trying to “cherry pick” its exit terms.

“Based on the potential impact on jobs, each EU country should be aware of the significant economic benefit in terms of jobs stemming from trade with the U.K.,” said Justin Protts, research fellow at Civitas. “The EU does arguably have to negotiate as a bloc. However, each of the 27 remaining national government should be negotiating in the interests of those that democratically elected them.”

Civitas said that 3.2 percent of all German jobs are linked to exports to the U.K, whereas only 2.4 percent of British jobs are reliant on Germany. Almost one in 10 jobs in Ireland, Malta, Cyprus, and Belgium are connected to trade with the U.K.

“It will be the pressure of their citizens on national governments that will force continental politicians to recognize that what is good for Britain and British workers is also good for their own populations,” Christopher Mills, business spokesman for the U.K. Independence Party, which campaigned for Brexit, said in a statement. “A fair deal that allows freedom to trade without unrestricted freedom of movement is the clear best solution, for us, and for them.”

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