Brexit: State of Play
With little more than one year until the exit date in March 2019, negotiations are Brexit negotiations find themselves at a critical juncture with both the withdrawal of the United Kingdom and its future relationship with the European Union still under negotiations. While Prime Minister May declared that “Brexit means Brexit” we will likely only know at the 11th hour what Brexit really looks like.
Over the coming 12 months, EU and UK negotiators will need to finalize the United Kingdom’s formal withdrawal from the Union as well as agree on a transition period, its length and the terms of a transition to allow time for a more comprehensive long-term relationship agreement.
This means that businesses need to engage with policymakers on both sides of the negotiations to ensure their views are heard and taken into account.
Timeline of negotiations
With the withdrawal date of 29th March 2019 rapidly approaching, there is no shortage of key deadlines in 2018. Firstly, a legally binding withdrawal agreement must be negotiated between the UK and the EU ahead of the next European Council summit on 22-23rd March in Brussels. At this meeting, the EU will discuss and agree on its negotiating directives for the future relationship and this will kick start formal negotiations on this front.
The second deadline is October 2018, the date raised by the EU and Michel Barnier, as the latest possible date by which Brexit negotiations must conclude to provide adequate time for the UK and EU sides (including the European Parliament, national and regional parliaments) to complete the ratification process by March 2019.
Understanding the decision-making process
Talks between the UK and EU negotiating teams occur on a monthly basis, formally led by David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, and Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Negotiator for Brexit, respectively. Most of the technical negotiations are handled by subject matter expert from both sides.
Any agreement reached by negotiators require approval by both the EU and UK governments. On the UK side, following a vote in the House of Commons, the UK Parliament will have a ‘meaningful vote’ on the final Brexit deal ahead of March 2019. On the EU level, the European Council must approve the deal and the European Parliament must give its consent alongside national parliament and regional parliament ratification.
Why get involved?
The private businesses will be especially affected by the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. While negotiations have been ongoing for more than one year, they have been focused on technical issues related to the UK’s withdrawal rather than the future relationship which will mainly affect businesses.
Therefore, UK and EU businesses need to get involved. Our contacts within both the UK Government and the EU have told us that businesses need to speak up and ensure their views are heard rather than hoping that a solution for their sector will be found.
So how to prepare your business?
Evaluate Brexit’s impact on your business
Brexit threatens to rip up the rules governing business, trade and supply chains across Europe. Depending on the outcome of the negotiations, businesses need to asses how to respond to these changes.
The first step for any concerned business is to measure the evaluate the impact that Brexit will have on their business. This includes assessing the impact on your supply chains, your customs processes, tariff rates you may be subject to and the impact on your employees and talent requirement. Once an estimate has been established, identify which policy areas are central to your business and what your ideal “Brexit deal” would look like.
How to get involved & how IDA can help?
Develop a clear message and identify your relevant stakeholders
Once the impact has been established, it is key to develop a clear and consistent massage as well as identifying the right stakeholders. From a small focused campaign addressing an important specific issue impacting your business to a wider campaign, IDA has extensive experience working with international companies, SMEs and think tanks in developing and implementing political communications campaigns.
We are experienced in dealing with major EU and UK institutions and policymakers, regularly securing meetings for clients in the EU Commission and EU Parliament as well as with Permanent Representations of EU Member States in Brussels. Our UK experts maintain close contacts within DEX-EU, relevant national ministries, and with Brexit ministers in London. Our clients are able to use the connections and skills we have in both cities to voice their concerns about legislation and make recommendations to the relevant authorities.
Why dialogue is key
Through meaningful dialogue with lawmakers, it is possible for private sector firms to influence Brexit negotiations. Whether offering a business perspective on the loss of freedom of movement or spotting new supply-chain opportunities for UK and European companies, both negotiating parties take seriously the opinion of European businesses. IDA specializes in finding influential individuals who are interested in our clients’ points of view. Through meetings in Brussels and London, as well as continued digital outreach, we communicate our clients’ observations and concerns.
About IDA Group
We are an Anglo-German highly specialized consultancy for governmental affairs, reputation management, trade and funding with offices in key EU capitals and partners around the world. Our diverse team of experts includes seasoned diplomats, politicians, journalists, lawyers and business developers and our efforts are supported by a global network of reliable partners on both sides of the negotiations making us ideally placed to help provide your company with the latest Brexit insights and advice on what your company should be doing to prepare for the various Brexit eventualities and how to get your views heard.