Allie Renison, Head of Europe and Trade Policy at the IoD gives you a monthly update on the world of Brexit...
As the latest round of Brexit negotiations panned out, some progress was made on the Irish question and citizens’ rights, two of the so-called ‘separation issues’. However, the UK continues to drag its feet on matching the EU’s “full guarantee” of existing rights, while Brussels’ “no trade talk first” dogma means making progress on the Irish border is fairly limited.
The EU is adamant the divorce bill is settled before talk of future relations. Conversely, the UK argues any financial settlement discussion is indivisible from talks over the future. Unfortunately, there is little time until a pivotal European Council meeting in October, where the EU27 may or may not give the go-ahead for opening trade talks.
As the talks reach deadlock, our members want the Government to secure a transition arrangement as soon as possible. The Government has a window of opportunity from now until next summer – at the latest - to make progress on securing interim arrangements. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier suggested Brussels would be open to transition “if the UK should so request” and the UK Government has been most vocal on this of late. It may herald the possibility that addressing this business-critical issue may not be so far off.
While some businesses may have ‘priced in’ a relocation of jobs to the EU, the Government and organisations like the IoD have a duty to minimise this possibility. A smooth transition keeps this from being needed now, and allows time for negotiating an agreement so that it may not be needed at all. A transitional period may constrict our abilities to capitalise on opportunities like implementing new trade deals immediately, but hastening the speed of these opportunities would be unwise if the UK does not iron out its EU relationship first.
Recently, my schedule has involved meeting with policymakers on both sides of the Channel to hear the latest on recent trade and Brexit developments, as well as giving interviews on businesses’ priorities as Britain prepares to leave the EU. I also visited the US to discuss future US-UK trade relations. Several UK position papers have been released in recent weeks outlining the Government’s stance on various issues from data sharing to ECJ jurisdiction, and we expect more to come shortly.
I would encourage you to get in touch with your local IoD branch to ask what Brexit and trade-related activities are on offer. From my side, please keep an eye out for my next Brexit Surgery on immigration and the next event in our Navigating Brexit series, which will be on Regulatory Issues and Cooperation for Life Sciences and Chemicals.
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