Business groups set out priorities on Brexit

As Brexit negotiations begin, five of Britain’s business groups have petitioned the government to reach a deal giving the UK continued access to the single market and customs union in the interim.

Business groups set out priorities on Brexit
Britain's five major business groups are calling on the government to reach a transitional deal with the EU, which would give the UK continued access to the single market and customs union to the UK, until a final Brexit agreement is reached.

Formal talks begin in Brussels

As formal talks started over a UK exit in Brussels, the business leaders also called on the government to prioritise 'right to remain' guarantees for EU citizens in Britain and for UK expats in Europe, and to reach a final agreement on a “flexible” system to facilitate the movement of workers between the UK and the continent.The open letter has been signed by Adam Marshall, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce; Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry; Terry Scuoler, chief executive of the manufacturers' organisation EEF; Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses; and Stephen Martin, director-general of the Institute of Directors.

'Put the economy first'

They point out that their organisations represent hundreds of thousands of businesses across the UK, employing millions of people, and say the business community fully accepts the voters' decision in last year's referendum to leave the EU.But they add, “We have come together to urge the government to put the economy first as it prepares to start formal negotiations on the UK’s departure from the European Union. This is a deal that, when finally agreed, will matter fundamentally for the UK economy, for UK companies and for citizens of the UK.“We call on the government to ensure that negotiations take place in an atmosphere of mutual respect, and engage continuously with UK business interests on the many crucial and complex aspects of our future economic relationship with the European Union.“If the government moves forward in real partnership with business, drawing on its expertise, it will be in a strong position to protect and strengthen the UK’s economy during this vital period and beyond.”
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The economic priorities the business groups are calling for during the transitional period include access to the single market, an agreement on expats' rights and the maintenance of “an open, frictionless” border between the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Businesses' demands for a final agreement include:

  • Tariff-free goods trade between the UK and EU.
  • Minimal customs formalities at the land, sea and air borders between Britain and the EU.
  • Regulatory equivalence and mutual recognition of standards on an ongoing basis to ensure continued mutual access for both goods and services
  • A flexible system for the movement of labour and skills between the United Kingdom and the European Union that enjoys public support
  • Continuing UK participation in pan-European programmes, initiatives and agencies, “which add real economic value to communities, businesses, young people and universities”.
  • Protection of the benefits of free trade agreements currently delivered through the EU.
The letter concludes, “We recognise these are high-level principles, in an environment of great complexity and detail. We will work closely with each other and with government to explore ways to give effect to these principles.”For related news and features, visit our Brexit section.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  Get access to our free Global Mobility Toolkit Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centre

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