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Businesses Across Europe Call For Brexit Transition Period

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

15 December 2017

The UK's main business associations and also chambers of commerce from Northern Europe have issued separate joint statements calling for an agreement between the EU and UK on a transitional period that would see the status quo maintained temporarily after Brexit.

In a statement, the British Chambers of Commerce, the Confederation of British Industry, EEF (the British manufacturers' organization), the Federation of Small Businesses, and the Institute of Directors, said: "We welcome the fact that the European Council has approved the progression of talks to the discussion of a transition period, and a future trade relationship. It is our collective view that the transition period must now be agreed as soon as possible, to give businesses in every region and nation of the UK time to prepare for the future relationship. Further delays to discussions on an EU-UK trade deal could have damaging consequences for business investment and trade, as firms in 2018 review their investment plans and strategies."

"While our members will be particularly pleased that EU citizens currently living and working in the UK now have more clarity, it's still essential that an unequivocal commitment on their future rights is made whatever the outcome of negotiations. We will continue to work with the Government to ensure that UK firms can overcome the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities that a new trading relationship with the EU and the rest of the world will bring."

In addition, the chambers of commerce of seven countries bordering the North Sea, including the British Chambers of Commerce, for the first time issued a joint statement also calling for the swift commencement of transition and trade talks.

The statement reads: "The British Chambers of Commerce, Chambers Ireland, the Danish Chamber of Commerce, the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Netherlands-British Chamber of Commerce, and the Federation of Belgian Chambers of Commerce represented by Voka-Flanders Chamber of Commerce and BECI-Brussels Chamber of Commerce, call on the United Kingdom and the European Union to keep on striving for sufficient progress in the first phase of the Brexit negotiations to ensure talks on transition and the future EU-UK trade relationship can start as soon as possible."

"Many companies are embedded in supply chains spread over several northern European countries that depend highly on tight 'just in time' management cycles, which can be severely disrupted by even the slightest unforeseen regulatory changes. All these companies that engage both directly and indirectly in EU-UK trade and EU-EU via the UK trade, most notably in the case of Ireland, need to start taking the necessary actions to prepare for new EU-UK trading arrangements as soon as possible."

"However, most of the big issues that are of concern for our businesses have not yet even been touched on by the EU and UK negotiators. Issues like future customs procedures, the extent of regulatory alignment between the UK and the EU, and the mutual recognition of standards and safety checking agencies are just a few critical areas in which companies need clarity."

"We therefore call on EU and UK negotiators to create clarity on the outlines of a future trade friendly EU-UK relationship in the following months. As it is in the interest of the EU and the UK to have a united and open Europe, the new relationship should fully respect all aspects of the integrity of the Single Market."

It added that: "Given the monumental changes Brexit will bring, a realistic transition period is needed to provide time for companies to adapt to the new EU-UK trading relationship. A status-quo like transition period - announced with sufficient notice - ensuring the UK remains in the customs union and the Single Market for the duration of the transition period, with all the appropriate rights and obligations, would be best to provide business with the highest possible degree of certainty and predictability."

Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: "Last week's breakthrough in the negotiations was a welcome relief for business communities. Trade thrives between the UK and Europe, and all sides benefit from reaching a business-friendly deal."

"It's clear that companies in the UK and in Europe all want talks to move forward to the future trade relationship without delay. There is a real clamor for the negotiations to start on the practical issues that will affect firms, from regulation and customs, to tariffs and taxes."

"Businesses trading between UK and Europe have done their best to focus on the potential impact of Brexit on their operations, rather than on the day-to-day political noise. However, businesses both in the UK and around the world want clarity on the key political issues, and it is up to the negotiators to provide that clarity."

TAGS: tax | investment | business | value added tax (VAT) | Belgium | Denmark | Ireland | Netherlands | interest | tariffs | United Kingdom | France | Germany | standards | regulation | trade | business investment | Europe

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