21 September 2016

  |  CBI Brussels


Silence on Brexit in Bratislava

After Commission President Juncker’s State of the Union speech, the “brutally honest” EU27 Summit in Bratislava shed light on European leaders’ opinions on the future of the EU but revealed little new about the Brexit process. 

Silence on Brexit in Bratislava

Following the State of the European Union speech on 14 September, in which Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker highlighted the resilience of the EU following the Brexit vote, there was speculation that EU leaders may start to give a clearer steer on their priorities for the future relationship between the EU and the UK at the EU27 informal Summit in Bratislava. However, despite this high-level platform for leaders to put forward such views, there was near universal silence on the topic, with neither French President Hollande nor German Chancellor Merkel commenting on Brexit.

The Summit was supposed to provide an opportunity to demonstrate solidarity amongst the EU27 on the need to drive forward following Brexit. However, despite the generally collegiate atmosphere, clear divisions remained on fundamental EU policy issues – most notably on migration. This was most clearly evidenced by Italian Prime Minister Renzi’s decision to speak out against Merkel and Hollande because he did not “agree with their positions on immigration and the economy” and Hungarian PM Victor Orbán’s criticism of EU migration policy as “self-destructive and naïve.”

On the other hand, Brexit has been top of the agenda for the CBI and our members. Last week, the CBI President’s Committee met with UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox to discuss Britain’s future as a trading nation. CBI Director General Carolyn Fairbairn also met with Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, to further understand the government’s priorities for Britain’s upcoming EU negotiations and to discuss business’ priorities. In Shaping our Future, the CBI outlines five key principles for the negotiation of the future UK-EU relationship:

  1. Retaining the ease of UK-EU trade that businesses gain from the Single Market;
  2. Balancing regulatory equivalence with the EU with flexibility and influence over the domestic environment;
  3. Ensuring the UK’s migration system allows companies to access the people and skills they need, while recognising public concerns;
  4. Developing a clear strategy for international trade and economic agreements; and
  5. Protecting the economic and social benefits of EU funded projects.

The CBI will continue to engage with the UK government and our international partners, at all levels, to promote the interest of our members on Brexit, as well as pushing forward the domestic agenda as we look ahead to the government’s Autumn Statement in September.

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