BusinessEurope Headlines No. 2019-11
“Faced with challenges, European integration must be strengthened. Companies are committed to transforming these challenges into opportunities. Transitions are not risks but opportunities”, said BusinessEurope President Pierre Gattaz about the upcoming European elections in May 2019, at an event in Luxembourg organised by its member federation FEDIL on 21 March. After a working breakfast with Nicolas Schmit, former Minister of Labour, Employment and Immigration of Luxembourg, President Gattaz and Director General Markus J. Beyrer took part in a press conference with Nicolas Buck, Chairman of FEDIL. BusinessEurope laid out its ambition for Europe in 2030 ahead of the European elections. On the topic of Brexit, during a panel discussion with candidates of the major Luxembourgish political parties, Director General Markus J. Beyrer underlined that “we must avoid Brexit ending in a disaster. We support an extension on the basis of Art. 50 paragraph 3. This extension should be as short as possible but long enough to allow for an orderly exit”.
Contact: Julia Luerzer
By Luisa Santos, Director for International Relations
We know everyone wants to avoid cliff-edge and ensure a smooth exit but if there is no concrete action and we simply let the clock running this could still happen on 12 April 2019, new date for the UK's departure from the EU if the Withdrawal Agreement is not approved by the House of Commons by 29 March.
The EU has done what it could at this stage. It has facilitated an extension of article 50, it has given extra assurances regarding the withdrawal agreement, in particular the backstop. The ball is in the UK’s camp once more.
It is up to the UK to decide if it can support the withdrawal agreement that is on the table, if it wants to have more ambition regarding the future relation (the EU has said it is open to change the political declaration regarding the future EU-UK relation) or if it wants another solution that requires more time e.g. referendum, elections. We can only hope to have some clarity soon.
In the meantime, business is preparing. We were told to prepare for the worst scenario or for no deal and this is what companies have been trying to do. But this is a very challenging task.
Let’s not forget the UK has been part of the EU for more than 40 years and its market has been seen by European companies as domestic market and vice-versa. If the UK crashes out without a deal it will be the only country in the world with which the EU has no agreement. The UK will be like any other third country but without any safety network of trade or any other type of agreements - for instance on mutual recognition of standards.
Both the EU and the UK have been adopting contingency measures to mitigate the impact of a no deal Brexit. These measures are extremely important but they are limited in scope and will not have the same effect as a withdrawal agreement that includes transition with the UK staying in the customs union and the single market until December 2020. Without a deal the exit will not be smooth and we can expect disruption (link to our recent letter on contingency measures).
Even if the exit day has been pushed forward, uncertainty remains extremely high. We are living an unprecedented situation with so many possible scenarios still on the table after more than two years of negotiations.
One thing is certain, the longer it takes to have clarity on the immediate future the more companies will be forced to take decisions that will be difficult to reverse. We hope the discussions this week in the UK Parliament are conclusive and a feasible solution is found. If this does not happen, the UK must come up swiftly and until 12 April with a workable proposal on the way forward.
In the meantime, preparations for no-deal should be maintained and possibly reinforced. Companies need to adjust the plans made 29 March and set them to the new date of 12 April. We should be prepared as we can be for the worst always hoping for the better.
Contact: Luisa Santos
Contact: Eleonora Catella
Taking Charge of Transatlantic Trade”, organised by the European Liberal Forum at the BELvue Museum in Brussels on 21 March. European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom, Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake and Professor André Sapir, Senior Fellow at Bruegel, were also on the panel and debated what the EU can do to develop a more proactive approach towards transatlantic trade and to maintain constructive trade relations globally. Santos highlighted that the European Union must continue to engage with the U.S. and China, and ensure that rules for international trade are fit for purpose. “We also need to create conditions for European companies to be competitive both globally and at home. By having an ambitious bilateral trade agenda, we are creating a large network of like-minded partners that believe in rules-based trade, while setting rules that uphold European standards and support the competitiveness of European companies,” she stated.
Contact: Eleonora Catella
Photo copyright: European Liberal Forum
Contact: Jessie Fernandes
Circular Economy Industry Platform.
Contact: Leon de Graaf
- 2 April: 23rd European Corporate Governance conference
- 3 April: 5th European Migration Forum
- 3 April: Launch of BusinessEurope's Thanks to Europe video
- 4 April: 70 years of NATO
- 4 April: Eurogroup
- 9 April: EU-China Summit