UK-EU platform launches to address needs of industry, as businesses “left in the dark” over Brexit

Posted On: 
18th May 2017

The summit on May 18th will launch the Brexit Exchange programme, a forum for UK and European businesses to set out their requirements for Brexit and influence the negotiations.

The Brexit Exchange London launch takes place on the 18th May in London at the Leadenhall Building and is chaired by international negotiator Jonathan Powell and Steffen Kampeter, Director General of the German Employers Association (BDA).

  • Summit in London Thursday (18th May) will seek to set business-to-business dialogue in motion.
  • Brexit Exchange will bring EU and UK businesses together to establish the detailed needs of major industrial sectors.
  • Brexit Exchange chaired by Jonathan Powell and Steffen Kampeter of German Employers Association (BDA).
  • Need for “rhetorical disarmament” on both sides of negotiation, say co-chairs
  • Concerns that fraught Brexit negotiations will marginalise the needs of industry.
  • Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo welcome the initiative.

The summit will feature a roundtable discussion for the dozens of businesses taking part in the summit, to begin to set out their priorities for Brexit. Business representative set to attend include Google, BMW, HSBC, RBS, KPMG, Morgan Stanley, RUSI, Asda, Aviva, the Nuclear Industry Association and British Sugar.

Other speakers at the summit include former permanent secretary to the Attorney General, Sir Paul Jenkins KCB QC, CBI President Paul Drechsler CBE, City of London Corporation policy chair Catherine McGuinness and former Canadian Senior Counsel Christophe Bondy, who took part in the negotiations for the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

The launch event in London will be followed by sector-specific summits across Europe later this year, beginning with financial services, energy, food and drink, travel and tourism. Communiqués from each summit will be distributed through media, to engage government ministers, officials and diplomats from across the UK and EU, helping to secure the best possible agreement for all parties.

Amid fractious rhetoric from both sides, there is a growing concern the technical needs of private enterprise will be left off the table and businesses will be shut out of the negotiations. Brexit Exchange is neither a campaign in favour nor against Brexit. It seeks to bring businesses together and create unity amongst UK and EU industry, where politically there is increasing division.

Jonathan Powell described the negotiations as “the most difficult he has seen in his lifetime” especially given the “extraordinarily weak hand” of the British position.

“It is not just its mind boggling complexity structurally – how do you ensure that the divorce, the new deal and the transitional measures are negotiated in parallel rather than sequentially – and in terms of substance – making the Schleswig-Holstein question look like child’s play.

“Amid the hostile rhetoric, businesses in the UK and in European are being totally left in the dark. It is only by listening to the real effects of Brexit on British business that Britain’s interests can be truly advanced. And it is only by ensuring that that engagement is transnational – across all the member states of the European Union – involving enterprise, entrepreneurs, importers and exporters, employers and employees – that Britain’s negotiators can obtain the best possible deal for Britain’s economy, win the support of a qualified majority of the European Council, and the consent of the European Parliament,” Powell said.

Steffen Kampeter, Managing Director of the German Employers Association (BDA) said, “Brexit is about more than the future of Britain. It is about the future of Europe. About how, where and with whom we do business.

“The Single Market is an integrated European supply chain with the UK currently an integral link within it. Maintaining that link is in Britain's interest and Europe's interest too,” said Kampeter.

“That's why Brexit Exchange is so important. Letting Europe's politicians hear directly from European businesses about our common concerns and shared vision for trade, employment, productivity and enterprise," said Kampeter.

Prime Minister Muscat of Malta, Head of Government of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union welcomed the new initiative saying, “I would like to welcome the Brexit Exchange initiative. An international dialogue with business – to inform the negotiations, protect jobs and promote enterprise - is vital and essential to securing the continued prosperity of all the citizens of Europe. I wish you well.”

Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo, also welcoming the event, said “It is crucial the needs of industry from the UK and EU are properly reflected in the negotiations. Businesses in Gibraltar employ 9,012 people from the EU, with more than 12,000 people crossing our border each day from our closest neighbour Spain. I welcome the Brexit Exchange initiative, it is only by listening to the effects of Brexit in the real economy, and by working together, can the technical needs of private enterprise, be kept on the negotiating table.”