The heads of six British companies owned by German car giant BMW, including Rolls-Royce and Mini, have warned thousands of staff that jobs could be affected if the UK decides to leave the European Union, according to a report.
A letter to Rolls-Royce employees, which was leaked to the Guardian newspaper, warned trade tariffs could mean “higher costs and higher prices”. As a result, the firm’s “employment base could also be affected”, chief executive Torsten Muller-Otvos wrote. Similar letters were sent to other companies.
Supporters of the EU praised the firm for its “calm and sober statement of facts”, but the Vote Leave campaign group dismissed what it described as the “personal views of chief executives”.
In the letter, published in full below, Mr Muller-Otvos, chief executive of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, wrote: “Free trade is important for international business. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars exports motor cars throughout the EU and imports a significant number of parts through the region.
“For BMW Group, more than half of Minis built and virtually all the engines and components made in the UK are exported to the EU, with over 150,000 new cars and many hundreds of thousands of parts imported from Europe each year.
“Tariff barriers would mean higher costs and higher prices and we cannot assume that the UK would be granted free trade with Europe from outside the EU.”
He also expressed concern about the ability of the firm to attract employees from outside the UK following a ‘Brexit’.
“Our employment base could also be affected, with skilled men and women from most EU countries included in the 30 nationalities currently represented at the home of Rolls-Royce here at Goodwood,” Mr Muller-Otvos said.
Nick Herbert, the chairman of the pro-EU Conservative In group, told the Guardian that his confidence was growing that the British public would vote to stay in the 28-nation bloc.
“The calm and sober statements of the facts by companies like Rolls-Royce remind us of the advantages of being in the single market,” he said.
“The more I hear things like this, the more sure I am that Britain will be better off remaining in a reformed EU.”
But Paul Stephenson, a spokesman for Vote Leave, said “personal views of chief executives” were not necessarily shared by the staff of their companies or their shareholders.
“Big foreign, multinational companies like the EU because they spend millions lobbying it in order to stitch up the rules in their favour – forcing smaller players out of business,” he said.
What has the EU ever done for us?
What has the EU ever done for us?
1/7 1. It gives you freedom to live, work and retire anywhere in Europe
As a member of the EU, UK citizens benefit from freedom of movement across the continent. Considered one of the so-called four pillars of the European Union, this freedom allows all EU citizens to live, work and travel in other member states.
2/7 2. It sustains millions of jobs
A report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, released in October 2015, suggested 3.1 million British jobs were linked to the UK’s exports to the EU.
3/7 3. Your holiday is much easier - and safer
Freedom to travel is one of the most exercised benefits of EU membership, with Britons having made 31 million visits to the EU in 2014 alone. But a lot of the benefits of being an EU citizen are either taken for granted or go unnoticed.
4/7 4. It means you're less likely to get ripped off
Consumer protection is a key benefit of the EU’s single market, and ensures members of the British public receive equal consumer rights when shopping anywhere in Europe.
5/7 5. It offers greater protection from terrorists, paedophiles, people traffickers and cyber-crime
Another example of a lesser-known advantage of EU membership is the benefit of cross-country coordination and cooperation in the fight against crime.
6/7 6. Our businesses depend on it
According to 71% of all members of the Confederation of British Influence (CBI), and 67 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the EU has had an overall positive impact on their business.
7/7 7. We have greater influence
Robin Niblett, Director of think-tank Chatham House, stated in a report published last year: “For a mid-sized country like the UK, which will never again be economically dominant either globally or regionally, and whose diplomatic and military resources are declining in relative terms, being a major player in a strong regional institution can offer a critical lever for international influence.
The BMW letter to Rolls Royce staff:
As the debate around the referendum to decide the future of the UK's European Union membership increases, it is an appropriate time to outline the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and BMW Group position.
The decision on whether to stay in the EU or not is for British voters to decide on in June. However, as a wholly-owned BMW Group company, it is important for all Rolls-Royce Motor Cars employees to understand the view of our parent company.
The BMW Group believes that the UK is better as a member of the EU than it would be outside it. You will see in the media this week an open letter supporting the campaign to stay in the EU, signed by around 200 business leaders, including Member of the AG Board, Ian Robertson.
Free trade is important for international business. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars exports motor cars throughout the EU and imports a significant number of parts through the region.
For BMW Group, more than half of MINIs built and virtually all the engines and components made in the UK are exported to the EU, with over 150,000 new cars and many hundreds of thousands of parts imported from Europe each year.
Tariff barriers would mean higher costs and higher prices and we cannot assume that the UK would be granted free trade with Europe from outside the EU.
When it comes to regulation, whether the UK remains inside the EU or leaves it, with Europe as the UK's largest export market by far, we would have to abide by European rules and regulations in any case.
We believe it's much better to be sat at the table when regulations are set and have a hand in their creation, rather than simply having to accept them.
Finally, we get a significant benefit from the easy movement of our people between the UK and Europe. This allows the rapid transfer of expert knowledge throughout the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and BMW Group networks, building the skill level of our UK workforce.
Our employment base could also be affected, with skilled men and women from most EU countries included in the 30 nationalities currently represented at the Home of Rolls-Royce here at Goodwood.
The debate around this subject will undoubtedly continue to build as we near the UK referendum on 23 June 2016.Reuse content