German business leaders fear that deep divisions over how to handle the refugee crisis and growing nationalism among member states could break up the European Union, according to five of the country's biggest industry bodies.

The arrival of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in countries such as Syria and Iraq in Europe this year has frayed ties between European nations that were already strained by the euro zone financial crisis.

Added to that, rising nationalism could endanger Europe's wealth, economic success and security, the presidents of Germany's most prominent business groups told Reuters.

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