The “Brexit”, the potential exit of the UK from the European Union (EU), is making headlines in the German media, as well. Since beginning of this year until end of February, around 13,600 articles were published in the German printed and online media about this issue. This is more than six times the amount of articles compared to the previous seven weeks following a newspaper survey which showed for the first time that a majority of the British people would vote in favour of an exit. Focus of the coverage were the EU crisis summit on February 18/19, concessions of the EU towards the UK and the announcement of a merger between the stock exchanges of London and Frankfurt, the latter irrelevant of a Brexit. These are results of an analysis by Gerle Financial Communications, a UK based PR consultancy, specialized on financial services companies.
All in all, 13,596 articles were published in the German media about the topic “Brexit” between 4th of January and 28th of February 2016; this is six times more than in the previous seven weeks and after a survey by the British newspaper The Independent had been published which said that a majority of 52 per cent of Brits would vote for an exit of their country from the EU. Over 60 per cent of those articles (8,403) were published in daily newspapers, 4,448 in online sources, 611 as newswire notes, 56 in magazines and another 43 in Sunday papers; the rest of the publications came from newsletters, supplements or Apps.
The lion’s share of more than 5,300 contributions appeared in the week of the 15h to the 21st of February when the EU summit in Brussels took place and British PM David Cameron carried forward his demands for the United Kingdom to stay in the European Union. The compromise which was settled with the EU, however, was widely rejected back home in Great Britain and by the British press – with British politicians of the ruling Tories calling it a “miserbale deal”. On top of that, London’s famous major and fellow party member of Cameron, Boris Johnson, forged ahead of the “Leave EU” campaign and thus created more headlines on both sides of the Channel.
Arguments about special treatments in negotiations with the EU
Already in the week before, the concessions of the negotiators for the UK (“Notbremse” and “Extrawürste”) caused much media furore, as it could be seen in almost 2,600 articles. This was also caused by a new survey of market research firm YouGov: According to that, 45 per cent of the British wanted to leave the EU, with only 36 per cent wanting to stay.
Consequently the British Pound depreciated sharply against the Euro. Numerous warnings about the consequences of a Brexit, both from within the UK (CEOs of 36 listed firms in the UK, London’s financial sector, the Scottish Government, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney) and outside (US president Obama, Chief of the EU commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, the US Wall Street banks Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan) joined into the ongoing discusssion in the German media. Furthermore, the 23rd of June was named as the official date for the EU-Referendum in Great Britain.
The last week in February brought a positive end, in the eyes of the EU supporters: The stock exchanges of Frankfurt and London surprisingly announced their merger which should even take place in the case of a Brexit – the majority of more than 3,400 articles in this week covered this news.
The coming months until the referendum, the economic and political consequences of a Brexit – for the UK as well as for the EU and the rest of the world – will increasingly dominate headlines in the German media. These stories will not only deal with the attitude of the British towards the EU, as it can be said by now, but also with the expectations of the EU towards the UK and the consequences of a Brexit for other member states.