Debate & Dinner: The Future of Europe

On November 3, Deekeling Arndt Advisors and AMO hosted a very special Debate & Dinner on "The Future of Europe" in Frankfurt. More than 80 guests, e.g. representatives of financial institutions, law firms, consultancies and AMO members from all around the world, discussed the current state of Europe, the European Union and potential consequences of the Brexit.

The evening began with a welcome address of Egbert Deekeling, Senior Partner of Deekeling Arndt Advisors, for guests and speakers of the evening. Afterwards, the moderator Volker Heck, Senior Partner of Deekeling Arndt Advisors, pointed out that the Brexit vote has challenged the idea of Europe and that there are more open questions than answers on how the exit will be handled. In order to shed some light on the effects of UK's exit from the EU on industrial companies, banks and the economy as a whole, three speakers offered their valuable insights in short impulse speeches.


Moderator of the Debate

The first to take the stage was Prof Dr Stephan Reimelt, President and CEO of GE Germany & Austria, who stated that Europe has to face a new reality, with high volatility of the markets and slow growth. He explained that GE, one of the largest industrial companies in the world, is affected by the impending Brexit very little, if at all. This is the result of a highly localised approach GE takes on business, which can be challenging for a global company. Key is to adapt your mind-set to local values and act accordingly in order to do and grow business. By way of example he described the German energy sector: In the past Reimelt had four clients – the large players. Today, he has 1,200 customers: the public utilities ("Stadtwerke"). Reimelt said that the Brexit is a challenge and that it is not a question of soft, hard or dirty landing. Both, the EU and the UK have to do their homework in order to bring growth back to a level of 2–3 %, thus protecting our society. Reimelt sees two aspects with a high relevance for Europe’s future success: Diversity, which Europe has but needs to leverage better, and education. He concluded by stressing that despite the uncertainty of the future, Europe needs more optimism and people should remind themselves of positive achievements of Europe within the past 60 years. Finally he underlined the importance of leadership to achieve economic and political targets.

Angus Maitland, Chairman of Maitland and Co-Founder of AMO, rose to speak and gave a short introduction of the AMO partnership and affirmed the determination of AMO to build business in Frankfurt.

Second speaker of the evening Alexander Doll, CEO of Barclays Germany and member of the banks task force dealing with the Brexit, shared the banks view on the matter. In his opinion, the impact of the Brexit is highly overstated. It is foremost a catalyst for banks to refocus on their clients and reconcile the banking business. According to Doll, centralisation is good for the banking sector as it increases trading activity and liquidity. At present 60 % of European trading is conducted out of London. Because of the Brexit vote, this could change in the future as currently it is unpredictable how many bankers might be shifted to the continent. This uncertainty is already reflected by the market: Transnational M&A activity is slowing down and many Asian companies, who usually used London as an entry point for the European market, are currently reluctant to invest. In the end, there is not one general banking approach for dealing with the Brexit, but every bank has to decide, how they want to deal with the situation, depending on their individual customer needs.

Matthias Diermeier, Personal Aid to the Director of the Cologne Institute for Economic Research, Prof Dr Michael Hüther, delivered the final speech. He presented results of research conducted with focus on the possible outcome of the upcoming Brexit: for example the negotiations between EU and UK bargaining about free market access, contributions to the EU household as well as free movement of people between the EU and the UK. The economists took into account how tough or easy the UK's and the EU's negotiating strategies might be and listed four possible scenarios. From an economical point of view, the EU should go for a hard negotiation strategy, said Diermeier, not allowing the UK to restrict the free movement of European workers since it is an essential element of the EU single market. If the UK would also negotiate tough, it would mean the complete loss of British access to the European market. This would result in the UK needing to negotiate new individual trade agreements with every EU country. The worst case scenario would be hard negotiations by the UK and soft negotiations by the EU, as this would probably lead to further exemptions for other members and eventually to a breakdown of the European system.

After the impulse speeches, the audience entered into a lively discussion with the speakers. A particular point of discussion was the question of immigration and free movement of people between the EU and the UK with very different opinions being raised, once again highlighting the controversial nature of the topic as a whole.


Read more:

Press release: Deekeling Arndt Advisors Frankfurt Seminar: "The Future of Europe"

The event was part of AMO's strategy to host a bi-annual workshop, conference or seminar for clients to discuss the latest issues and trends affecting the world in general and the financial industry in particular.

Report on the Press Breakfast

November 3, representives of the German financial press and the AMO Partnership came together for a press breakfast.