Airbus in EU exit investment warning

April 4, 2016 12:20 pm Published by

EU referendum: Airbus warns Out vote may hit investment

Chancellor George Osborne visiting Airbus' factory in Filton, Bristol earlier this monthImage copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Airbus has large manufacturing sites across Europe

One of the world’s largest aerospace firms has written to its 15,000 UK employees warning about the risks of voting to leave the European Union.

In a letter to staff, Airbus Group says it makes “good economic sense” for Britain to stay in the EU and suggests the company might reduce its investment in the UK if there was a vote to leave.

“We simply don’t know what ‘out’ looks like,” the letter states.

The campaign to quit the EU has claimed support from 250 business leaders.

Its supporters include the former chief executive of the British Chambers of Commerce John Longworth, who quit earlier this year amid a row over the lobby group’s position on the 23 June vote on whether to stay in the EU or leave.

Airbus employs 15,000 workers at 25 sites across the UK, generating £6bn a year making large aeroplanes and helicopters for civilian airlines and the RAF as well as satellites and cyber defence equipment.

The company says it is indirectly responsible for a further 100,000 jobs among its British suppliers.

Corporate view

It is no surprise that Airbus – which has large operations in France, Germany and Spain as well as Britain – supports the UK remaining in the EU. The company signed a pro-Remain letter to The Times with many other businesses in February.

But what is significant is its decision to come to a clear corporate view and express that view to its staff. Many businesses choose to stay out of the debate or simply allow their bosses to speak out in a personal capacity.

In the letter, the company emphasises what has helped to make the company a success because of its ability to move people and products around Europe.

“Airbus Group’s success in the UK is predicated on a highly competitive, integrated European business model,” it says.

“Our position… is we firmly believe that it makes good economic sense to stay inside the EU which has helped make the company the global success story it is today. Apart from anything else, we simply don’t know what ‘out’ looks like.”

Business model

It continues: “It is also reasonable for us as a responsible UK leadership team to explain to you why we think it is important for us to stay. Should the British electorate have a different view then clearly we wouldn’t cease our activities in the UK, which are highly important and very prominent.

“However, our business model is entirely based on our ability to move products, people and ideas around Europe without any restriction and we do not believe leaving will increase the competitiveness of our British based operations.

“We all need to keep in the back of our minds that future investments depend very much on the economic environment in which the company operates.

“In fact we believe that the UK remaining active in reforming the EU can improve our position, and as a commercial business that operates in a globally competitive environment we need to maintain every competitive advantage in the UK we have.”

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