Brexit (Voices) Blog Post

New research by the Council of British Chambers of Commerce in Europe (COBCOE) aims to give European businesses a voice. Key areas of common interest are identified, highlighting the priorities for a Brexit that secures prosperity for Europe.

Business leaders across Europe need to be listened to. They also need clear signals from the EU and UK that will allow them to plan. These are just two of the key messages to come out of COBCOE’s report, “Brexit – the Voices of European Business.”

The research, which involved around 1,000 businesses across the continent shows that uncertainty about the Brexit process and the outcome of negotiations coupled with a potentially short timeframe for change, has already impacted investment and commercial decisions. Managing the risk that this uncertainty presents is not only a drag on productivity, it means that progress on wider policy issues, such as the  development of the digital economy, could be delayed by the focus on Brexit.

Three main themes emerged during the course of the research which are highlighted in the report:

  1. Barriers to trade – maintaining a frictionless European economy;
  2. Uncertainty and disruption in the Brexit process; and
  3. The UK’s role as Europe’s global springboard. It includes many real-life examples of how firms are being impacted.

The research also uncovered concerns about the UK being partitioned off – even among European companies not directly engaged in trade with the UK. This is because many European businesses value the UK for its financial markets, regulatory infrastructure and world-class research and development.

The UK acts as a gateway for international investment and is considered to be a business-friendly force within the EU.

The 1,000 businesses which participated through round table discussions, a survey and poll, perceived a lack of engagement from governments and negotiators.

David Thomas, Executive Chairman of COBCOE pointed out “Europe’s prosperity depends on successful economic relationships between neighbouring businesses and consumers. Disregarding these engines of commerce and wealth creation will make Brexit the cliff face on which such relationships will deteriorate.

“The negotiators’ apparent ‘zero sum’ approach, whereby a loss to one side means a gain for the other, does not reflect reality. The risks and uncertainties that firms across Europe now face undermine European productivity and competitiveness. Agreement on the future framework for economic relations between the EU and agreement on a plan for a transitional period must be made without delay.

COBCOE has presented this report to the UK Government Department for Exiting the European Union and will soon be presenting it to the European Commission Taskforce on Article 50 Negotiations. Charles Brasted, Partner at Hogan Lovells, the international law firm which supports the project, said, “The voices in this report are a unique contribution to the discussion of what kind of post-Brexit Europe is needed and how we should get there. Businesses around Europe and across sectors are clear that Europe needs a strong and connected UK to continue to thrive, because it is central to access to capital, innovation and talent.

“European businesses recognise that they have to work with the process that Brexit has begun and that some change will be needed to give effect to it; but they need, as a matter of urgency, a predictable framework within which to continue to operate, plan, grow and compete during that period of change, and beyond. Agreement on a plan for the transitional period should not be delayed any longer, so that businesses have as much time and information as possible to plan and implement contingencies effectively and can avoid making costly adjustments that prove unnecessary in hindsight.”

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Gain visibility and recognition for excellence in trade and export by applying for the Golden Bridge Trade and Investment Awards.

What is the Golden Bridge Trade and Export Awards?

The 2017 Golden Bridge Trade and Investment Awards present an exciting opportunity for UK companies trading or investing in Belgium, and Belgian and Luxembourgian companies trading or investing in the UK to showcase their bilateral success to an international jury and celebrate their achievements during an exclusive ceremony hosted by the British Ambassador to Belgium, Alison Rose at the British Residence in Brussels, at the heart of Europe.

The Golden Bridge Awards is co-organised by the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and the Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain.

Fun fact: Belgium was the 7th largest export market to the UK and the UK was the 12th largest export market to Belgium last year.

Why should you apply?

Expand your international network, gain business and political expertise, receive recognition for your achievements.

The Golden Bridge Award opens doors to an international network and the connections businesses need to succeed both at home and abroad. Our international panel of judges from the business community are also affiliated with regional trade and investment bodies as well as embassies from the UK, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Winning a Golden Bridge Award will solidify your credibility on any of the three markets and will reinforce your pivotal role  in the economic relationship between Belgium, the U.K. and Luxembourg.

Previous winners of the Best Newcomer category, Orega, shared that the recognition for their export credentials gave them even greater visibility.

“It has sent the right message to our business partners based in Belgium. The award delivers to our potential customers a strong message, as we were new comers on the market.”
-Orega, Golden Bridge Best Newcomer Winner 2016

The award made a positive impression on their business partners with their improved credibility.

Bel’Export, 2016 winner of the Golden Bridge Award for UK business to Belgium, shared that the Golden Bridge award raised their company profile internationally as well as at home.

“As company you gain visibility, in – and outside the UK. It is a recognition for doing a good job.”

-Bel’Export, Golden Bridge Winner 2016

What will you win?

The winners of the Global Bridge award will receive:

  • Visibility at the awards event itself.
  • A one-year free membership* of the British Chamber. If you qualify under our SME criteria, you receive free  membership already if you are shortlisted as a finalist.
  • Participation in our Golden Bridge Awards Winners’ Day programme in Brussels in January 2018 to celebrate your success.
  • Your company featured in the British Chamber’s annual publications and in articles on our social media channels.

Apply now! The final registration deadline is 30th September!
Do you want to be a Golden Bridge Awards partner? Check the Golden Bridge Trade & Investment Award page on our website for more information or contact Alexandra Trandafir at alexandra@britishchamber.be.

 The Gala Dinner for the Golden Bridge Awards will take place on Wednesday 22nd November 2017 at The British Ambassador’s Residence in Brussels. The applicants will be shortlisted based on their financial performance, their innovation and strategy abroad, and their motivation for entering the awards.

*regular membership

 

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After a quiet summer (especially for certain negotiators..) the British Chamber welcomes their new interns (from L to R), Nikki Rai, Kelvin Akinpelu, Matt Richards, Joe Lush and Kelly-Ann Fonderson who are all university students from the UK who are doing their one year placement as part of their degree. Nikki is studying French and International Relations at Aston University and is joining the EU Committee team. Kelvin studies Economics at the University of Bath and is our new Membership Development Officer. Matt is a Sociology student at the University of Bath and is also one of the new EU Events Officers. Joe and Kelly are both studying Politics with International Relations at the University of Bath. Joe is the Business & Trade Officer. Kelly is our new Communications & Events Officer.

The new team have arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed and are looking forward to working with the members this year! While you are booking your next event at the chamber, here are some fun facts about the new colleagues..

The newbies favourite type of hats:

Joe: Yorkshire flatcap

Kelly: Wigs

Kelvin: Baseball caps with structure

Matt: Drinking hat

Nikki: New York Yankee cap

 

This week we sat down with Chair of the UK-EU Relations Committee, Tom Parker, to gain an insight into what the upcoming plans are for the committee.

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What are the UK-EU Relations Working Group’s plans for the next year?

Our plan is to remain at the heart of the Brexit discussion, recognised by our members and both sides of the negotiating tables as a bringer of valuable insight and content. We will continue our programmes of events, focused on key aspects of the Brexit discussion, such as customs arrangements, access to the EU internal market, and skilled labour. We also intend to keep dialoguing with business groups and other organisations from across Europe and beyond to build out greater understanding of the impact of Brexit to business.

 

Going forwards, what work are you most excited about being undertaken by the Committee?    

The work which puts the Chamber slap bang at the heart of the Brexit debate. For example, recognising that the complexities of a future arrangement between the UK and EU are so great that it is unlikely it will be completed by March 2019, the Chamber has called for a transition deal to be agreed once the details of separation have been settled. In the autumn we will launch discussion around the detail of such an arrangement, a topic which has as yet not been covered in any depth but which is critical to business and ultimately the success of future EU-UK relations.

 

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What have you enjoyed most from being the chair of the UK-EU Relations Committee?

Given the scale and scope of the Brexit challenge, I have particularly enjoyed working with our members and learning from their different perspectives and detailed insights on the consequences of Brexit. Whether that be the legal minutiae of adopting a transition deal, to the challenges of customs and rules of origin for those in manufacturing, to equivalence in services, there are so many details that do not make the headlines but that cannot afford to be missed in these negotiations.

 

What are you most proud of during your time so far as chair of the Committee?

I think the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium can be proud of the fact that it has become a reference on Brexit because of our related activity, knowledge and insight. Over the past 12 months we have been interviewed by the BBC, RTBF, Sky, Politico to name but a few, made key note speeches at events like the European Business Summit and seen an expanded membership interest as a result of our Brexit related activities.

 

Why are the work and events run by the Committee beneficial to someone in a business?

As with the wider Chamber, we provide a platform for discussion, sharing of insight and networking. With a topic as big as Brexit, working, talking and learning from others is key to meeting the challenge and seizing the opportunity of future UK-EU relations.

 

If you would like to learn more about the work by the UK-EU Relations Committee click here

The 2017 Golden Bridge Trade and Investment Awards present an exciting opportunity for UK companies trading or investing in Belgium, and Belgian & Luxembourg companies trading or investing in the UK to showcase their bilateral success to an international jury and celebrate their achievements during an exclusive ceremony hosted by the British Ambassador to Belgium, Alison Rose at the British Residence in Brussels.

As part of our 2017 Golden Bridge Trade and Investment Awards promotion we spoke with Helen Kemp, Group Communications Manager at Renewi plc (formerly known as Shanks Group plc) to see how they have been making use of their 2016 Golden Bridge Award. Renewi, which was created in 2017 by the merger of Shanks Group plc and Van Gansewinkel Groep B.V., is a leading waste-to-product business ideally positioned to be part of the solution to some of the main environmental problems facing society today: reducing waste, avoiding pollution, and preventing the unnecessary use of finite natural resources.

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Shanks Group plc collecting their award from HMA Alison Rose

What has been the response internally/externally to winning a Golden Bridge Trade & Investment Award?
We had a great reaction to the award win both internally and externally. Winning the award was a proud achievement for us as it highlights our commitment and investment in Belgium and the importance it has within our portfolio.

 

Why do you think participating in such events is valuable for a company?
Getting recognition, such as the Golden Bridge Award, cements our position as a leading waste-to-product business and a key contributor to the circular economy in Belgium. Such awards not only motivate our teams but also show our customers, local communities and other stakeholders that we lead in our field.

 

How have you used your success in your promotion/communication/marketing strategy?
We have promoted our award win both on our social media channels and on our website. We also highlight it in a number of publications including our annual report and internal magazine.

 

What did you enjoy most about the awards process?
We really enjoyed the entire process – from writing our entry, presenting our business, meeting the ambassador and the rest of the panel and of course attending the awards where we were grateful to receive an award!

 
What is your company working towards in 2017? Are you engaging in new projects?
Since our merger earlier this year, we are now primarily focused on integrating our two great businesses. We will always have three top priorities of keeping each other safe, serving our customers and delivering our commitments.

 

What advice would you have for 2017 applicants?
We would advise 2017 applicants to not be shy to show why you should win the award. At Renewi we have a fantastic business in Belgium and we were happy to promote it!

 

The deadline to submit your applications for the 2017 Golden Bridge Awards is now 29 September. Traditionally consisting of three categories – Best Newcomer, Best Small/Medium Sized Enterprise and the Golden Bridge Trade and Investment Award – applying for and winning an award is entirely free of charge.
For more information about the awards, please visit our website or contact us via email.

This week we sat down with Chair of Brussels New Generation Joseph Lemaire to gain an insight into what the upcoming plans are for our young professionals network.

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What are you most proud of in your time as Brussels New Generation chair so far?

The work done by the whole Brussels New Generation team. Every member of the core group has a very busy schedule with their daily job but still makes time to put together a great and regular program that attracts new and interesting people to every new event.

 

What does being chair of Brussels New Generation bring you?

I am constantly learning and it makes me go out of my comfort zone in many ways. I get to know young professionals like me and learn from their own experiences. I also have the chance to regularly meet business leaders who can always share professional and personal insights. Finally, part of the role is also learning how to lead a team and it is definitely something I enjoy doing.

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Teams discuss their answers in our pub quiz!

Which Brussels New Generation event are you most looking forward to?

All of them, seriously. One of our main focus is to have a program with a wide variety of events (training, leadership, networking, charity). That way, there is never a routine and every event is interesting to any young professional. But if I had to choose one event, it would be the Brussels New Generation Summer Cocktail (July 5 at Aloft Schuman as of 6PM), perfect to kick off summer and meet new people!

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Digging in at the Brussels Bake Off!

What are Brussels New Generation’s plans for the coming year?

We will keep having fun and organising regular events that are interesting and relevant. That is very important to us. We will also keep working on attracting more new young professionals from a variety of backgrounds. Finally, we will strive to become an even better platform for young professionals to meet and network.

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Young professionals at one of our CEO breakfasts

Why should people come along to a Brussels New Generation event?

First of all, Brussels New Generation events are free and that matters when you’re a young professional. It is also an opportunity to follow professional trainings and meet business leaders in an exclusive setting. Brussels New Generation events allow you to meet new people in Brussels and to learn about many other organisations and companies. Finally, coming to an event is a good way to chat with us and let us know what kind of event you would like us to organise next time.

 

If you would like to learn more about the work by Brussels New Generation click here and to see what events our young professionals network has coming up click here!

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