22 June 2017


Put the economy first in the Brexit negotiations

The CBI and 4 other leading UK business organisations issue a joint letter calling on the government to put the economy first in the Brexit negotiations.

Put the economy first in the Brexit negotiations

With the start of the EU negotiations this week, the CBI, British Chambers of Commerce, EEF, Federation of Small Businesses and the Institute of Directors sent a letter to the Rt Hon Greg Clark, Secretary of State for BEIS urging the Government to put the economy first as the UK departs from the EU. The letter featured in the Sunday Times on 18 June.

The groups called on the Government to ensure that negotiations take place in an atmosphere of mutual respect and that UK business interests be continuously engaged with on the many crucial and complex aspects of the country’s future economic relationship with the European Union.

The letter highlighted three specific economic principles that should be sought in the negotiations:

  1. Maintain the economic benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union until a final settlement between the United Kingdom and the European Union is agreed and implemented.
  2. Prioritise an early agreement on guarantees for EU citizens, providing much needed reassurance for those already resident in the United Kingdom, and for UK citizens already resident in the EU27
  3. Maintain an open frictionless border between Ireland and Northern Ireland; and between Great Britain and the island of Ireland

The letter also pointed out specific economic principles that should be prioritised for the final agreement between the UK and the EU27:

  • Tariff-free goods trade
  • Minimal customs formalities at the land, sea and air borders
  • 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 that enjoys public support
  • On-going UK participation in those 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

In Brussels, BusinessEurope have warned against a 'disorderly Brexit', encouraging negotiators to aim to achieve a smooth exit of the UK from the EU. They emphasise that companies need certainty regarding the withdrawal agreement and clarity about the future EU-UK relationship, including the envisaged timeline, as soon as possible. They also echo CBI sentiments that it is in the interest of both the EU and the UK to pursue mutually beneficial relations in the future in a level playing field environment.

For more information on the business view of Brexit, visit our hub to find all CBI reports and insight. Please get in touch with the EU negations team at EUNegotiations@cbi.org.uk to let us know how your business planning for Brexit is developing, and any related issues you’re facing.