Europe’s economy: on the road to recovery?

This article is part of
Guide to investing in Europe

He believes: “It all depends on the nature of the exit. A benign scenario would be that the UK would remain for all practical purposes a member of the EU (like Norway) except as a non-member and rule-taker for years to come, say five to 10. 

“In the meantime, negotiations for a comprehensive trade agreement post-EU-membership could take place (and the Irish border porous for the time being). This shouldn’t hamper growth.” 

But he warns: “A ‘no deal’ scenario would be devastating for the UK economy, damaging also the EU, which, however, would benefit from a transfer of business investments to the largest consumer market in the world.”

Keeping it in perspective

Frankfurt in Germany and French capital Paris have been identified as cities that could benefit from financial services firms relocating their headquarters, or simply large swathes of workers leaving London for elsewhere.

But Olly Russ, European income fund manager at Liontrust, argues while the UK is a large part of the EU economy, it is not a crucial part of trade for most eurozone countries. 

He explains: “Even if the UK were to leave on a ‘cliff edge’ hard Brexit, this is unlikely to have much of an effect, apart from on a few sectors which are dependent on UK exports or imports. 

“In reality, the vast bulk of UK economic activity will remain exactly as before, and so the impact is likely to be very limited indeed.”

There have been some reports of wrangling over the supposed Brexit bill that the EU wants the UK to pay before it can negotiate the terms over which it leaves the union.

Guy Foster, head of research at Brewin Dolphin, suggests: “Brexit will cause some political challenges and the increased EU budget for remaining members is likely to be a frustration if it is not compensated through a hefty UK exit bill. 

“But either way it will be unlikely to change the trajectory of European growth materially. The UK makes up less than 10 per cent of eurozone trade by its broadest definition.”

There are those who believe it is entirely impossible to make any predictions at all about the outcome of the Brexit negotiations and the effect on either the UK or Europe.

Tristan Hanson, manager of the M&G Global Target Return fund, asserts: “There are simply too many moving parts and too little clarity on what future arrangements will exist in order to make a judgement.