22 September 2017

  |  CBI Press Team


UK and EU must show greater ambition to progress talks

The CBI’s President, Paul Drechsler, spoke at Ely Cathedral setting out the case for a transition deal with the EU.

UK and EU must show greater ambition to progress talks

On the Brexit talks, Paul Drechsler, CBI President, said:

“As I’ve travelled around the UK, I’ve found firms who are looking to make a success of Brexit. Fundamentally, the question isn’t whether we will leave the EU. The question is how we will leave. The answer to this question can’t be ‘without a deal’. The risk of ‘no deal’ is real.

“Companies right here in the East of England are closely linked to the EU. Two thirds of imports into this region come from the EU – the highest share in the UK. If we left without a deal, ports and airports in the East of England would face real disruption. They’d face new paperwork. Need new systems. And need new skills to manage these.

“The aviation sector would also be affected. Unlike most other sectors, there’s no such thing as WTO rules for aviation. That means there’d be literally no legal framework for operating flights between the UK and the EU unless we managed to do a deal ourselves.

“This would be disastrous for a sector that directly contributes over £50 billion to the UK’s economic output and supports 1 million jobs. And the kicker is that unlike many other sectors, even an 11th-hour deal would still be hugely damaging.

“That’s because airlines, passengers and airports plan their flights months, sometimes years ahead. So the sooner we can get a good deal, with a transition period, the better for everyone. And when I say everyone, I don’t just mean people here in Ely, or the East of England, or even the UK. I mean everyone across Europe – all 500 million of them.

“Firms across the EU and UK are clear. Planning a transition period of up to three years that avoids that ‘no deal’ cliff-edge is crucial.

“So how, practically, can we do this? Well we need both sides to move onto the next stage of negotiations, where transition can be discussed. So let’s make progress on issues like EU citizens right now. Let’s discuss transition in October. And let’s move onto trade by the end of the year.

“This might sound ambitious – but business can’t wait. We need clarity right now.”