After almost five years of negotiations, manufacturers from across Europe are carefully optimistic that a no-deal, for the moment, has been avoided. However, as is so often the case, the devil will be in the detail. We will need the requisite time to analyse this agreement to ensure it delivers a solution which is in the best interests of industries on both sides of the Channel.
The backdrop of COVID-19 and industrial transformation
What must remain in focus is that all of this continues to happen against the backdrop of a COVID-19 pandemic and in the middle of the digital and green transformations. Manufacturers are experiencing the biggest industrial crisis in living memory; Ceemet estimates that in the 18 months from June 2020 to December 2021, 1 million jobs are in danger of being lost due to the current crisis and its economic effects.
Now industry needs time to adapt
The companies which make up our sector, the overwhelming majority of which are SMEs, could not have been ready for these changes. The time originally set aside to prepare for change, the transition period, is nearly at an end. This should have been the time for businesses to adapt to the contents of the new deal and prepare for any new realities.
Therefore, a mechanism must be put in place to ensure that companies have the adequate time to adjust to these inevitable changes. Companies in the MET sector are already disproportionately affected by the triple challenge of a pandemic and a twin transformation of industry. This deal must preserve the complex and delicate relationships developed between manufacturers in the EU, their non-EU trading partners which are part of a Customs Union, and the UK.
"We need to see a mechanism in place to ensure that companies have adequate time to adjust to any change to the current operations, with review clauses in place if needs be" - Oliver Zander, Ceemet Chairman of the Board