Aston hosts debate about the future of the automotive industry and the EU

Aston shines in university rankings

9 November 2015

The relationship between Britain’s automotive industry and the European Union (EU), will be top of the agenda at an event, ‘Staying in The Fast Lane: Britain’s Auto Industry in Europe’, to be hosted by the Aston Centre for Europe this week (12 November).

Leading academics, professionals, trade bodies, practitioners and media commentators will gather to consider the effectiveness of the current relationship of the sector with the EU, and the implications should the UK vote to leave the EU in next year’s referendum. T

There are concerns that should a ‘Brexit’ be realised, then the automotive industries in neighbouring countries, such as Germany, France and Italy, will not only benefit in terms of export sales, but also in terms of shaping future regulation of the sector. Yet others claim that Britain could negotiate a trade deal with Europe and the UK auto industry could thrive if the UK were to leave the EU.

In the past three years, £7.5bn has been invested by major automotive assemblers in the UK, and the sector contributes 4% of UK GDP. Around 45% of UK automotive exports are to the EU, so the ongoing relationship is vital to the continued competitiveness and success of the industry in this country.

Delivering the keynote speech at the event will be Mike Hawes, CEO of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Also speaking at the event will be:

Richard Burden MP, Shadow Transport Minister and Chair of the

All-Party Parliamentary Motor Group (APMG)

Tony Burke, Assistant General-Secretary, Unite

John Leech, UK Automotive Sector Leader, KPMG Automotive Industry and the EU

Alex Story, Director, Business for Britain

Stuart Young, Head of Automotive, Wragge, Lawrence, Graham & Co.

Neil Winton, Automotive journalist 

Commenting ahead of the event, Professor David Bailey, Professor of Industry, Aston Business School and Co-director of Aston Centre for Europe says:

“The automotive industry in this country is one of the success stories for UK manufacturing in recent years. It has done the heavy lifting of boosting output and exports, and creating jobs. With almost half of export production going to the EU, the potential impact of the UK’s exit from the EU could be detrimental to this economic sector. 

“By bringing together a range of industry experts, leading academics, trade bodies and policy makers, consideration can be given to the crucial questions that arise from the government’s agenda for EU reform ahead of the planned referendum, and the impact that will have on the UK automotive industry.”

The event is supported by the ESRC "UK in a Changing Europe" initiative and will take place at Aston Business School on Thursday 12th November. To register for free contact 


For more information, please contact Rachael Richards at or on 07718 779523.

Notes for Editors

Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established research-led University known for its world-class teaching quality and strong links to industry, government and commerce. Professor Dame Julia Kingbecame Vice-Chancellor of the University in 2006. Aston has been a leading university for graduate employment success for over 25 years and the University is currently ranked in the top 25 for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey.