Hard Brexit will cost the European Union twice as many jobs as UK, say researchers from University of Leuven

 
Catherine Neilan
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Up to 1.2m jobs could be lost in the EU alone (Source: Getty)

A hard Brexit could cause twice as many job losses in the EU as in the UK, economists based in Brussels have warned.

Up to 1.2m jobs could be lost in the European Union, with up to 526,000 being lost in the UK, researchers from the University of Leuven.

More than 42,000 jobs could be lost in Belgium alone, with the food industry being the sector hardest hit, the economists Hylke Vandenbussche, William Connell and Wouter Simons claimed.

In terms of absolute figures, countries like Germany would be most affected, but in relative terms countries with close historical ties to the UK - for example, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands and Belgium - stand to lose the most, the report said.

The EU has a population of more than 743m, while the UK has a population of 65.6m.

A soft Brexit would still lead to some job losses within the EU, but a considerably smaller rate of 284,000, they said.

The economic impact would mean the UK "is hit relatively harder" than the rest of the EU27, with economic activity being dampened around three-times more.

The bloc's GDP would shrink by between 0.38, in the event of a soft Brexit, and 1.54 per cent in a hard Brexit scenario, while the UK's GDP could fall by between 1.21 per cent and 4.48 per cent.

The report was published ahead of the fourth round of talks which began yesterday.

Chief negotiators David Davis and Michel Barnier urged each other to press forward with talks.

Davis pledged to "work through the detail" of the three key areas - the Irish border, citizens rights and the divorce bill - in a bid to unlock the second phase of discussions, opening up to trade and transition.

Barnier once again stressed the need for "clarity".

Today sees the launch of a highly anticipated City blueprint for Brexit that sets out a bespoke free trade agreement (FTA) to enable financial services on both sides of the argument to continue working as before once the UK leaves the EU.

Report author Mark Hoban said he was confident the blueprint would mitigate job losses, although he acknowledged that it could not eradicate the risk entirely.

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