Siemens and BMW have said that a British exit from the EU would be damaging to the future of the UK’s technology and manufacturing sectors.
Siemens’ UK CEO Jürgen Maier believes that if the country voted to leave the union in the upcoming referendum in June, research and development on future technologies such as driverless cars would move to other countries in Europe, taking the intellectual property rights with it.
“We have thirteen factories in the UK which are producing products for both domestic and export markets,” he said.
“For those factories to be able to thrive in the future, like they have done as part of the European Union for the last 30 or 40 years, they need to be influencing what the future of their industry is going to look like.”
BMW’s Ian Robertson, a member of its managing board, echoed Maier’s comments saying that the EU allows freedom of movement for the car-maker’s components, cars and engineers, but that a British exit would create restrictions that would give those countries that remained in the Union distinct advantages.
“That’s one off the primary reasons that we believe it is much more positive for the UK to remain a strong and robust member of a reformed European Union,” he said.
“If the UK were to leave the Union, we would still have to abide by all the laws and legislation that apply within it because we would still move and sell our products around the EU.”
Robertson noted that the car industry in the EU is currently undergoing significant legislative change, hinting at the upcoming roll out of driverless cars to consumers and the clamp down on environmental regulations in the aftermath caused by the Volkswagen emissions scandal.
“That of course would mean that Britain would lose its status as a rule maker and would have to become a ‘rule taker’ because it would not have a seat at the table that is shaping the future of legislation,” he added.
Siemens and BMW were outlining their positions while speaking at a conference on Britain’s future place in the EU ahead of a UK referendum on its membership in June.
“There are many good examples of where the UK can shine a light on some things that haven’t been done in Europe and being part of the EU allows us to do just that,” Robertson concluded.
“Open markets and free trade are a distinct advantage for not just industry but society in general. We firmly believe the advantages far outweigh any disadvantages. We want the UK to be a strong member. The EU needs the UK to play its part.”