Unions and businesses urge EU countries to speed up Brexit negotiations

United Kingdom's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis gives a press briefing at the end of sixth round of Brexit talks at the Commission, in Brussels, Belgium, 10 November 2017. [Olivier Hoslet/ EPA]

Trade unions and employers have joined forces to urge the EU and UK to speed up Brexit talks ahead of tomorrow’s European Council summit.

In a joint statement, unions and business organisations representing 45 million workers and 20 million employers across Europe demanded urgent progress.

“We are calling on the UK government and the EU to inject pace and urgency in the negotiations, bringing about measurable progress, in particular a backstop arrangement to avoid a hard border in Ireland,” the statement said.

The Directors General of BusinessEurope and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Markus Beyrer and Carolyn Fairbairn, and the General Secretaries of the the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Luca Visentini and Frances O’Grady are behind the initiative.

The signers urged member states to finalise the withdrawal and transition agreement by October, as foreseen, to avoid disruption to the UK and European economies. They called on the EU and the UK “to put the economic interests and people’s jobs, rights and livelihoods first.”

“The UK government and the EU will need to agree on all aspects of regulatory alignment, which is of the utmost importance, without jeopardising the integrity of the single market,” they added.

They also emphasised the need to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland.

“The cost of disagreement between the UK and the EU would be dire for firms, workers and the communities where they live. Amid uncertain times, we appeal to negotiators on both sides to put jobs and prosperity before politics when seeking solutions that will matter for generations to come.”

BusinessEurope, the CBI, the ETUC and the TUC demanded to be involved “in a meaningful and more structured manner on a joint basis”.

The economic impact of Brexit in the EU-27 is expected to be a loss of between 0.1% and 0.5% of GDP. In the case of the UK, it could amount to as much as a 4.2% loss of GDP, according to the European Parliament’s assessment.

In case of no deal scenario, an economic forecast commissioned by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has warned of the loss of half million jobs in the UK.

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