Three questions to Pierre Gattaz, President of MEDEF, on Brexit
The Brexit terms seem to be more and more elusive. Are French companies worried about this situation?
Brexit is not good news and we are not expecting anything positive on this. Time is growing short. Above all, we believe that we need to move quickly to remove the uncertainties created by this situation. There is a huge question mark over the post-29 March 2019. On that day, the United Kingdom will no longer be in the European Union. It is up to the British Government to clear this fog by clearly stating what it wants. Yes, French companies are worried, especially those that do a lot of business with the UK. But there are also those that fear damage to level playing field, i.e. unfair competition conditions, at the expense of mainland companies.
We want the negotiations to be successful so that we have a political settlement as soon as possible.
Are you arguing for a hard Brexit? Should heavy penalties be imposed on the British?
The idea is not to be particularly hard on our British partners. That being said, the British people have decided to leave the European Union. It must therefore take all the legal, economic and budgetary consequences. When you pull out of the game, you cannot continue to enjoy its benefits. But we know that the British economy will remain a major economy and that we will, of course, continue to exchange with the United Kingdom.
So we must not waste time and move toward a political agreement.
Is Brexit not a factor of major destabilisation for Europe?
On the contrary, I believe that the political consequences of Brexit illustrate the fact that there is in reality no credible alternative. No one today sees any potential benefits for the United Kingdom in exiting the European Union. Quite to the contrary! Our British neighbours appear weakened and bogged down by this process, which is long, costly and creates many uncertainties.
Alongside this, we can see that thanks to a well-bonded Franco-German couple, we are making strides on very difficult issues such as posted workers. Europe is first and foremost what we make of it. Inefficient organisation is by no means an inevitability for it. We can change things from the inside by engaging, working with everyone and opening up new prospects.