Mechanical engineers in Germany are alarmed by the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

The Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau (VDMA) mechanical engineering association fears a loss of confidence in Europe as an industrial location, and a drastic reduction in exports to the UK.

In economic policy terms, Germany is losing a key ally in the EU. From the point of view of companies within the industry, the EU must now provide clarity on the UK’s departure from the EU and establish the conditions for the country’s future cooperation with the EU.

The VDMA also warns that Britain’s exit must not be a danger for the EU.

Thilo Brodtmann, VDMA chief executive, said: “Great Britain’s decision to leave the EU is a warning signal for companies. The Brexit will cost Europe as an industrial location a great deal of confidence among investors.

"It won’t be long before our machinery exports to the UK start to fall off noticeably. It is completely unclear what will happen to companies with UK subsidiaries. The EU must now contain the damage and keep the period of uncertainty as short as possible.

"Europe’s companies need security to plan ahead and a reliable roadmap for the exit.

“For export-oriented companies, fragmentation of Europe would be the nightmare scenario. Unfortunately, the Brexit will give EU sceptics in other countries a boost. From an economic standpoint, however, there is no reason to doubt the importance and the future viability of the EU."

In Germany, mechanical engineering in particular is reliant on a stable political environment in Europe. In 2015, 44.8% of all the industry’s exports went to other EU countries (€69.6 billion). In the UK itself, in the first quarter of this year German companies have already suffered a 4% decline in machinery exports, to around €1.7 billion compared to the previous year.

In 2015, the country was the fourth-largest foreign market (€7.2 billion export volume) for Germany’s mechanical engineering sector.