Let me serve the current trend of being politically a little bit inappropriate by releasing my personal view on Brexit without being diplomatic about it: I was against Brexit. Firstly, looking back at Europe’s history, our nations have been at war with each other for centuries. It was easy to judge other nations 70 years ago, when we were less integrated. Now we are enjoying the longest period of peace in Europe’s history – for this I feel the European Union is a great organisation. Secondly, I do not understand why somebody would like to give up tax-free access to the single largest consumer market in the world following a leaver-campaign that – well, let’s say – had very interesting interpretation about some facts.
Saying this I must also say that I understand many arguments on the leaver-side as the “pencil-pushers” (don’t worry – I will become politically correct again in a second) in Brussels somehow forgot to give Europe a positive vision in the last 20 years, they were too busy working on tea-bag recycling policies. Because I also understand arguments on the leave side, my hope was that the United Kingdom would stay in the EU and that the referendum would help to shake up our EU institution for better.
However, Article 50 will be triggered very soon. Brexit is reality. And for anyone who does not know what that means, they should simply ask our Prime Minster. They will learn that Brexit means Brexit. I do hope they will make a success out of it. I really do hope the politicians will make a success out of it because at the end of the day and after all the emotions of the Brexit campaign one fact (we return to facts now) remains true: What is good for the UK is good for Europe and vice versa. EU or not EU – we depend on each other. So, I do hope that the UK will come out stronger and both sides can negotiate a deal that makes sense for everybody without an element of mistrust, or even a symbolic punishment which is still demanded by some politicians on the continent.
What could Brexit mean for the exhibition industry? I see a big opportunity that UK exhibition organisers could benefit from Brexit initially. For decades, the European exhibition landscape has been dominated by big exhibitions, mainly in Germany and France. Most global exhibitions have been held in cities such as Frankfurt, Hannover or Munich. For a long time, it has been enough for global players from the US or Asia to serve the European markets by joining flagship shows in these cities. Leaving the EU will mean that these companies must review their strategy to serve the European market and very likely they will view the United Kingdom as a market in its own right. This could boost show floor demand in London or Birmingham. The success Messe Frankfurt achieved with Automechanika last year in the UK might be a role model of what organizers could do. For a very long time it has seemed to be a paradigm that the enormously big shows in German cities do not leave any room for others to launch a spinoff or a similar show serving the same industry in UK cities. This paradigm will come to an end when Article 50 is triggered. Business development directors at the big show organizers should discuss whether seeking to gain square meters in their show portfolios on British ground is actually a nice growth opportunity.
In the end I can’t believe that I, as a “Remainer”, have praised the benefits that might come with Brexit. However, as I said: what is good for the UK is also good for Europe and vice versa. So let’s leave emotions behind and try to make a success out of whatever will come with Brexit!
Matthias Tesi Baur