This message has been clearly outlined today, 16 October, by the industry chiefs within Ceemet representing the European Tech and Industry sector, comprising over 200,000 companies and providing 35 million direct and indirect jobs.
The European Union has done more to remove barriers to trade between its members than any other economic bloc in the world. This has facilitated the success of EU manufacturing, allowing highly integrated supply chains across Europe and beyond to develop in a common regulatory environment, with open borders, ease of mobility of workers, and a level playing field to ensure fair competition. As MET employers, we need a Brexit deal that delivers as much continuity as possible, respects the rights of citizens, ensures the payment of the ‘Brexit bill’ and guarantees an open border on the island of Ireland.
Manufacturing is a capital-intensive activity, which is uniquely exposed to the costs of border frictions, customs paperwork, tariffs and regulatory divergence. Our sector is already feeling the pinch, with the slowdown globally but particularly in the automotive sector which represents over 20% of our sector, the growing uncertainty of a possible no-deal Brexit only adds to this. A return to the borders and costs of the past would prove catastrophic and must be avoided in any instance.
As MET employers we accept that some change in our trading relationship is inevitable. But given the cost and disruption that will inevitably be incurred we need a realistic transition period, including non-EU countries that are part of a Customs Union where European MET employers have trade partnerships. Firstly, to allow enough time for a new relationship to be negotiated and to come into force, so that our members only face one set of changes, rather than two. Secondly, to allow time to make the necessary investments and preparations to adapt to the new reality.
We hope that a deal on this basis can be done with the UK in the coming days. If it cannot, then we call for a further extension to allow both the EU and the UK to redouble their efforts to ensure we find a deal that works in the best interests of Europe’s manufacturers and their trade partners.