Brexit – No Deal not an option: European industry leaders call for clarity and certainty

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

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Time is of the essence, as business needs certainty, and in the worst-case scenario, ample time to adjust. Clarity should be provided by agreeing on a time-limited extension of the transition period. In particularly SMEs would get the time to adjust to the possible new post-Brexit realities, writes Uwe Combüchen.

Uwe Combüchen is the Director General at Ceemet – European Tech& Industry Employers

Ahead of the European Council meeting this week and following an informal meeting of member states in Salzburg, the leaders of Europe’s largest manufacturing sector call on both the UK and the EU to deliver the certainty of a transitional period through the agreement on the Withdrawal Treaty.

Clarity is also needed for a Future Partnership which protects integrated supply chains, the ability to employ across Europe and ensures a level playing field in regulations: these are the priorities of European Manufacturers.

This is the clear message from Ceemet, the European Tech & Industry Employers’ organisation representing via its national members, 200,000 companies of the metal, engineering and technology-based industries, providing 35 million direct & indirect jobs.

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May insisted on Monday (15 October) that a Brexit deal was close to completion, after talks between EU and UK officials broke down over the Irish border question.

Clarity & Certainty

Tech and Industry Employers across Europe agree that the conclusion of the Withdrawal Agreement must be a priority in order to deliver the transitional period which will allow businesses across the EU the time needed to develop new models and make the required investment to transition to the new trading relationship between the EU and the UK.

Industry understands that one of the remaining issues for the Withdrawal Agreement is the impasse in agreeing a mutually acceptable backstop for the Northern Ireland border. While we recognise that both sides have committed to delivering a Future Economic Partnership that will hopefully mean that the backstop is not ever enforced, it is clear that the negotiations cannot progress without an agreement on this point.

We call on negotiators to look at a compromise which would provide additional certainty to businesses in both the UK and the EU 27 and would allow for time to negotiate an agreement on the Future Relationship, avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland.

It is important that any compromise does not jeopardise the single market, upon which the EU has gone from strength to strength.

It is vital that we see the Withdrawal Agreement confirmed in order for the negotiations on the Future Partnership to intensify and deliver the clarity businesses need.

Brexit talks stall before midweek EU summit

The stubborn problem of Britain’s land border with Ireland thwarted a drive to clinch a Brexit deal before a European Union summit this week, as negotiators admitted defeat after marathon talks and pressed pause for the coming days.

No deal is the worst outcome for both the EU and the UK

A no-deal Brexit scenario is not an option for Ceemet’s members, the increased costs for companies would be detrimental. Many of our sub-sectors operate within highly complex and interwoven supply chains and the current uncertainties in relation to their continuation is weighing heavily on companies’ business decisions.

In the absence of certainty and clarity, our members are, in some cases, paralysed by not knowing what decisions they need to take. Therefore, Ceemet could support a compromise which extended the current proposal of a 21-month transitional phase to a more realistic timeframe, looking at the reality of the time needed for businesses to prepare, develop and implement new business models.

It is clear that the 21-months already set out in the Withdrawal Agreement does not leave sufficient time to both agree the Future Relationship and allow companies the time to adapt. The timetable should be driven by the time necessary to conclude an agreement on such a complex trading relationship.

Following this, both sides should stand ready to agree an additional implementation period to allow industry the time to implement any changes.

10 Point Plan – Point 9: Brexit

Tech & Industry employers presented October 8th their 10 Point Plan for a competitive industry in Europe. Knowing that companies operate within intertwined and complex supply chains, there is a fundamental need for certainty and clarity. This could be achieved by ensuring, insofar as possible, a level playing field between the EU27 and the UK.

Deal, no deal, or no Brexit?

Theresa May’s attempts to negotiate a ‘soft Brexit’ are not backed by a parliamentary majority. Nor are the plans of the hard Brexiters. That could result in a new referendum, which could lead to the UK staying in, argues Hugo Dixon.


About Ceemet

Ceemet represents the metal, engineering and technology-based industry employers in Europe, covering sectors such as metal goods, mechanical engineering, electronics, ICT, vehicle and transport manufacturing.

Member organisations represent 200,000 companies in Europe, providing over 17 million direct and 35 million indirect jobs.

Ceemet is a recognised European social partner at the industrial sector level, promoting global competitiveness for European industry through consultation and social dialogue.

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