Germany Brexit panic: 460,000 jobs linked to UK exports as crunch EU talks go down to wire

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UK and EU negotiators remain locked in late-night talks in London as they desperately try to make a breakthrough in the long-running and often bitter post-Brexit trade negotiations. But several issues still remain, predominantly around fisheries, state aid and how the overall deal will be governed, with both sides seemingly refusing to offer any significant concessions on the three crucial red lines. Britain will fully cut ties with the EU at the end of the transition period on December 31 but if a trade deal has not been agreed, both sides will revert to trade terms set by the World Trade Organisation, with huge tariffs placed on products entering and leaving the bloc.

But, 460,000 jobs in Germany are linked to exports in Britain – at least 60,000 of which are in the automotive industry, according to a study by the Nuremberg Institute for Employment Research (IAB).

No other country in the world orders more cars from German manufacturing plants than Britain, meaning a no deal outcome with the EU could blow a huge hole in sales and have lasting negative impacts throughout the lucrative industry.

There are also growing concerns about rules around the impact Brexit will have on the number of skilled workers in the country and whether they can remain there.

The free movement of workers between the EU and UK will apply until the end of the transition period on December 31.

The Withdrawal Agreement struck between Brussels and London last year contains rules that will continue to apply, with EU and British citizens having the right to remain in the host country once the end-of-year deadline has expired, but this right is tied to certain conditions.

EU citizens who had lived and worked in the UK for five years can apply for settled status in the country by June 30, 2021 but if this five-year timeframe has not been reached, they must apply for a “pre-settled status”.

The rules are more unclear for EU citizens moving to the UK next year to work in the country, as Downing Street has yet to clarify the requirements they will have to meet for a work and residence permit, but these citizens will in future be treated like third-country nationals.

Britons living in Germany, for example, will have to apply to their local immigration office by December 31 for a residence card, which will secure their right to remain in the county and grant them a work permit beyond the transition period deadline.

The latest fears from Germany come as the prospect of a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU continues to look uncertain.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is scheduled to update envoys from the remaining 27 member states on Friday on the latest in the talks.

On Thursday, EU officials had warned that significant gaps still remain on three issues in negotiations between London and Brussels, with the outcome of talks still uncertain.

But Stefaan de Rynck, who is part of chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier’s team, warned negotiators have failed to resolve differences on fishing rights in UK waters, ensuring fair competition guarantees and ways to solve future disputes.

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He told a seminar in Brussels capital: “The long and the short story is that talks are continuing in London. Significant divergences remain.

“Both sides are working hard to overcome them but the outcome is uncertain.”

Mr de Rynck also compared the current negotiations to a marathon and said the UK and EU were “probably past kilometre 40” of the just over 42-kilometre (26 mile) race.

On Thursday evening, Downing Street warned that while a trade deal with the EU is still possible, the prospect of an agreement being struck is diminishing all the time.

A spokesperson said: “At the eleventh hour, the EU is bringing new elements into the negotiation.

“A breakthrough is still possible in the next few days but that prospect is receding.”

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.

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