- The referendum will take place on June 23rd
- The banking sectors of Ireland, Malta, Luxembourg, Spain, France and Germany have sizeable links to that of the UK
- Brexit would create a precedent for countries leaving the EU
An exit from the EU by the UK ('Brexit') would weigh on the economies of other EU countries and increase political risks in Europe, Fitch Ratings says.
They mention that although they would not expect to take any immediate negative rating actions on other EU sovereigns if the UK left, negative actions would become more likely in the medium term if the economic impact were severe or significant political risks materialised.
"The economic impact of a yes vote in the 23 June referendum would be lower for the EU than for the UK, but would still be palpable. It would reduce EU exports to the UK, although the extent would depend on the nature of any UK-EU trade deal and the degree and duration of sterling depreciation." The most exposed countries would be Ireland, Malta, Belgium, the Netherlands, Cyprus and Luxembourg, all of whose exports of goods and services to the UK are at least 8% of GDP.
EU countries could gain from the shift of some FDI from the UK to the EU. However, countries such as Luxembourg, Malta, Belgium and Germany, with a large stock of FDI and financial assets in the UK, would suffer losses in the euro value of those assets if there were a permanent depreciation of sterling. The banking sectors of Ireland, Malta, Luxembourg, Spain, France and Germany have sizeable links to that of the UK.
Brexit would reduce the UK's contribution to the EU budget (a net EUR7.1bn in 2014 after rebates), potentially to zero. This would imply that other net contributors would have to increase payments, or net recipients accept lower EU expenditure. Brexit would create a precedent for countries leaving the EU. "It could boost anti-EU or other populist political parties, and make EU leaders more reluctant to implement unpopular policies with long-term economic benefits. Negotiating the terms of the UK's exit could exhaust the EU's time and energy and open up new fronts of disagreement. Brexit could shift the centre of gravity of the EU, making it more dominated by the eurozone core, poorer, more protectionist and less economically liberal. If the UK were to thrive outside of the EU, it might encourage other countries to follow suit."
Brexit could precipitate Scotland leaving the UK, which might intensify secessionist pressures in other parts of the EU, such as Catalonia in Spain.
Fears of other countries leaving could widen bond spreads for "peripheral" countries, potentially increasing the average cost of debt and making it more challenging to reduce government debt/GDP ratios.
Fitch is not recommending any particular position, vote or outcome regarding the referendum vote on June 23rd 2016. If you want to read their report titled "'Brexit' Would Raise Downside Risks to EU Sovereigns", follow this link.