Survey: Czexit talk making companies anxious

Photo: Graphics Mouse,

Almost 80 percent of locally-based companies are disturbed by a recent debate in the Czech Republic about a referendum on leaving the European Union, suggests a new survey. And over a quarter of firms would consider upping sticks if what has been dubbed Czexit were to actually take place, the study indicates.

Photo: Graphics Mouse,
That is the finding of a March survey commissioned by the German-Czech Chamber of Industry and Commerce among 150 companies and quoted by the Czech News Agency.

The prospective of such a vote has in the past been raised by President Miloš Zeman, who was re-elected in January.

The anti-EU party Freedom and Direct Democracy have been actively advocating for a referendum on the matter and the issue of allowing referendums in general has been a subject of discussion amid talks on forming a new Czech government.

Some 83 percent of foreign investors are concerned about the ongoing debate on Czexit, as are two-thirds of Czech-owned firms, the recent poll indicates. Companies with 250 or more employees are the most anxious.

If the Czech Republic were in fact to depart from the European Union, a quarter of respondents in the survey said they would weigh up reducing investments in the country. Some 28 percent would consider upping sticks entirely.

In concrete terms companies are most worried (74 percent) by the limited access to the European market that Czexit would cause.

Other fears are related to customs and taxation (66 percent), increased red tape (61 percent), reduced turnover (60 percent) and a possible need to make redundancies (36 percent).

Almost half of the businesses surveyed said exiting the EU would leave the Czech Republic in a poor negotiating position as regards international trade deals.

Respondents said even the airing of the Czexit question would not benefit the country. They called on the country’s political leaders to make an unequivocal commitment to remaining in the EU in the long-term and to reject any referendum on the matter.

Illustrative photo: Office of Czech Government
The president of the German-Czech Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Jörg Mathew, said that none of the initiators of the Czexit debate had provided a comprehensible explanation of the economic, social and international impact it would have.

More than 80 percent of Czech foreign trade is with other EU states, said Mr. Mathew, adding that access to the European internal market and the associated benefits were of fundamental importance to the Czech Republic.

The Czech News Agency said that a survey it had conducted recently among economists and business associations had suggested leaving the EU would be nothing short of “economic suicide”, with thousands of jobs lost.

In February the president of the Czech Confederation of Trade Unions, Josef Středula, said that Czexit would spell collapse in many sectors and lead to layoffs.

Mr. Středula said that the advocates of quitting the EU were putting forward no alternative. They are merely trying to hoodwink Czechs by claiming Czexit could end positively, the union chief said.