Allie Renison, Head of Europe and Trade Policy at the IoD gives you a monthly update on the world of Brexit...
This past month has been pivotal for the Article 50 process as months of negotiations came down to one decision: the European Council concluded that phase one of the talks had not reached the ‘sufficient progress’ required to move on to phase two. The Council saw decent progress on citizens’ rights as well as some progress on the issue of the Irish border; however, it was not pleased with the UK side’s financial settlement offer.
Taking into account reports and comments from senior policymakers leading up to the summit, this outcome was widely expected. Nevertheless, the decision was a symbolic and decisive one in the midst of a negotiation process that has sometimes seen abstract rhetoric overtake discussion of the practical substance of what leaving the European Union will entail. The IoD has called on both negotiating sides to show more flexibility as holding fast to points of principle does not necessarily help the thousands of businesses and employees at stake.
Another major development in recent weeks was the Prime Minister’s Florence speech in which she provided some clarity on the UK’s objectives, including the confirmation that achieving a transition or implementation period is a Government policy. This move was welcomed by business leaders, though it is important to note that any bridging arrangement would take time to negotiate, and that firms need time to plan for any changes Brexit brings about.
As usual, my busy schedule means I’m always on the move. As well as advocacy efforts with policymakers here in the UK, I have been engaging with our networks further afield. I travelled to Slovenia to meet with senior leaders and government officials to discuss best business practices and how Slovenia can boost its investment potential to the UK. Also represented on the trip was the Council of British Chambers of Commerce in Europe, with whom I am delighted to confirm the IoD has just signed an MoU.
I have also been spending some time in the US where the IoD is working on a collaborative project with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Together we held our second workshop on setting out the priorities for the US-UK digital trade agenda. We will shortly put details of the discussions on our website.
Businesses recognise the legwork that negotiations on a transition period and on the final deal will involve, but they are urging for clarity and signposting from the Government sooner rather than later. For now, our message to policymakers is to keep calm and carry on – but hurry up.
As ever, please make contact with your local branch to ask about the EU and trade-related activities we have on offer.
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