A hard Brexit could cause the loss of 42,390 jobs in Belgium, 526,000 in the United Kingdom and 1.2 million in the entire European Union (EU), according to forecasts published on Thursday by economists of the Catholic University of Leuven.
The economists, Hylke Vandenbussche, William Connell and Wouter Simons, compared the consequences of “hard” and “soft” Brexits for the labour market. In a “soft” scenario, there would still be no customs tariffs between Britain and the EU, but there would be non-tariff trade barriers, as in the case of a country like Norway.
In a “hard” Brexit scenario, customs duties would be reinstated at the rates stipulated in World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements.
The economists assessed the job losses stemming from “soft” and “hard” versions of Brexit in the remaining 27 EU members at 284,000 and 1,200,000 units respectively, while Gross Domestic Product would shrink by 0.38 to 1.54%.
In terms of absolute figures, countries like Germany would be most affected, but in relative terms, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands and Belgium have most to lose.
For Belgium, between 10,000 and 42,000 jobs could be lost, with the food industry being the sector hardest hit.
Britain could lose 140,000 to 526,000 jobs, while its GDP could fall by 1.21% to 4.48%.