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Brexit will not limit UK-EU trade, says German business chief

Brexit Exchange

4 min read Partner content

The Director General of the German Employers Association (BDA), Steffen Kampeter, has said that a politicised Brexit decision will not limit trade between the UK and the European Union, insisting that a good trade deal is required.

“The UK is a big trade partner for European businesses. The political decision for Brexit shall not sustainably limit our exchange options,” Kampeter said in front of an audience of businesses gathered in London on Thursday at the launch of the Brexit Exchange programme. He co-chairs the new initiative with Jonathan Powell, former Chief of Staff to Tony Blair and international negotiator.

“So we require from politics a good trade deal between the UK and the European Union for a positive prospect of European business and UK businesses.

"Our aim is to find a reasonable solution and that is what Brexit Exchange can deliver, they can deliver facts and examples to the negotiators from sectors,” said Kampeter.

Kampeter and Powell have joined forces to create a politically neutral forum for UK and European businesses to set out their requirements for Brexit and influence the negotiations. Kampeter served as Deputy Finance Minister from 2009 to 2015. Powell was Downing Street Chief of Staff from 1997 to 2007, during which time he was central to the Northern Ireland peace negotiations, and is now an international negotiator.

Speaking alongside Powell to an audience of business leaders, Kampeter said: “Nobody can expect from your team or the Barnier team to know every detail.

“The EU 27 do know that we have to solve two or three questions first and then we get much more into detail, residents, money, Northern Ireland. These three are probably, as we see, on the top of the agenda.”

“The EU 27 do know that we have to solve two or three questions first and then we get much more into the residence, money, Northern Ireland – these three are probably, as we see, on the top agenda.

“There may be an option then to combine Article 50 with Article 218, I think,” Kampeter said. Article 218 sets out the rules for how the EU makes agreements with “third countries or international organizations”.

“Extraordinarily complex” - Powell

Also speaking at the launch from London’s Leadenhall Building, Jonathan Powell said: “The big problem is many sectors of business have not yet begun to prepare for Brexit, they are thinking it’s something a long way in the future.

“The danger is that this negotiation either breaks down or does wrap up in two years with a framework agreement."

Powell has described the process for the UK leaving the EU as “extraordinarily complex”, stating that the upcoming negotiations will be “the most difficult I have seen in my lifetime.”

Kampeter and Powell were speaking in front of a hundred-strong audience of business leaders, including representatives from ABTA, BT, BMW, BNY Mellon, British Sugar, HSBC, Mishcon de Reya, the Nuclear Industry, Pernod Ricard and Tate & Lyle.

Andy Bagnall, KPMG’s Head of External Affairs, also said at the event: “The objectives of Brext Exchange are really helpful at this point in the debate.

“The idea of moving beyond the politics and talking about practical detail about where go from here, accepting that the debate about whether we leave or not has happened, making sure that we get the best result, and having a voice for business can only be a good thing.

“We are also concerned about the things Brexit Exchange is talking about, around some of the practicalities.

“How you shift products across borders, how the customs authorities deal with paperwork and systems. Those are the sorts of practical issues that we are really concerned about,”  Bagnall said.

Speaking alongside Kampeter and Powell at the launch were the former permanent secretary to the Attorney General, Sir Paul Jenkins KCB QC; CBI President Paul Drechsler CBE; City of London Corporation policy chairman Catherine McGuinness; Partner at Mishcon de Reya Rob Murray; and former Canadian Senior Counsel Christophe Bondy, who took part in the negotiations for the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

Video content

Below are a selection of videos that are available for download and editing from the Brexit Exchange event. Brexit Exchange own all the rights for these videos, so feel free to edit as you wish, please credit to Brexit Exchange. Videos are in high res MP4.

Steffen Kampeter, Director General, German Employers Association (BDA) and Co-Chair of Brexit Exchange. Video includes piece to camera as well as unedited footage from the panel


Jonathan Powell, former Chief of Staff to Tony Blair and Co-Chair of Brexit Exchange. Video includes piece to camera as well as unedited footage from the panel debate:!Ao68Z1swutrhgvs7S1wu5_NQCjJzUQ 

Andy Bagnall, Head of External Affairs, KPMG:!Ao68Z1swutrhgvs3uS_vktokjpUNrA

Rob Murray, Partner, Mishcon de Reya:!Ao68Z1swutrhgvs4UuWvjOQk2AcAvg

Sir Paul Jenkins, former Permanent Secretary to the Attorney General, Matrix Chambers:!Ao68Z1swutrhgvs6rxkuRd4LOh_Wfw

Marc Vlessing, CEO, Pocket Living:!Ao68Z1swutrhgvs6rxkuRd4LOh_Wfw

All videos:!Ao68Z1swutrhgvs1Zsw0mcPvbVEL6w


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