Last week we announced our 10 negotiation principles and now that Article 50 has been triggered we felt it was due for a timely reminder as to what the priorities of our members are going to be during the negotiations.


In order to underpin a stable, attractive and competitive European economy, the British Chamber of Commerce in Brussels (BCCB) have identified ten priorities that should underpin any future UK-EU relationship:


Equivalent access and treatment: European businesses should be able to access the EU and UK markets, participate in trading mechanisms, trade and provide services across Europe under compatible and equivalent conditions, so as to maintain free and fair economic relations. A deep and comprehensive agreement should guarantee the new UK-EU relationship enabling mutual market access, compatible with EU rules on free movement of goods and services.  A close stable regulatory cooperation should ensure continuation of equivalence in standards and treatment. This includes continuation of tariff-free trading, simplified customs procedures, absence of duty rates and other restrictions, coordinated trade defences vis-à-vis third countries and tariffs and mutual preferential access to third countries’ markets, as well as open data flows.

Freedom of investment and establishment: UK and EU businesses should continue to participate in Europe’s economic life by enjoying mutual protection and unrestricted conditions of establishment and investment. An agreement should ensure that all entities engaged in economic activities, as well as movement of capital between the EU, the UK and third countries, are not subject to unjustified or unnecessary restrictions, for instance being able to rely on unhindered financing under stable equivalent conditions.


Skills, Qualifications & Employment rights: European businesses need to rely on the right skills at the right time and place, to ensure innovative and dynamic economies and support full employment, as well as on clarity on the rights of the workforce and related obligations of employers during the transition to a new UK-EU relationship. A system between the UK and the EU that provides adequate availability of these skills throughout Europe is a must, including through continued (and where possible enhanced) mutual recognition of professional qualifications in the new EU-UK relationship.


Competition: UK and EU businesses should benefit from healthy competition and a level playing field, in the interest of all European consumers, while embracing the opportunity provided by under the new relationship. An agreement should foster regulatory cooperation for continued alignment and equivalence in competition and M&A rules, to facilitate approvals, prevent abuses, limit compliance burdens, and ensure proportionality of antitrust investigations, as well as ensure close coordination on clearance of notifications.

Contractual relations and dispute settlement: European businesses must be able to maintain smooth contractual relations, without uncertainty as to the applicability of law in EU-UK cross-border situations, as well as benefitting from streamlined cross-border judicial procedures, certainty as to the competent courts and mutual recognition and enforceability of judgments, to safeguard attractiveness of EU-UK trade and investments.

Better Regulation: The principles of better regulation and proportionality should underpin the new EU-UK relationship and the agreements enshrining it, so as to avoid undue regulatory burden.


To ensure a level playing field and respecting the principles of the Energy Union, under the new relationship the UK should have continued access to the Internal Energy Market (IEM) and commit to Europe’s climate goals.


In the negotiations towards a new relationship it should be ensured that the taxation of cross border trade and business activities does not become unnecessarily complicated or lead to double taxation. This applies in particular to the following tax matters: clarity in the application of the UK-EU VAT; keeping or reproducing frameworks that abolish tax impediments, such as the EU Arbitration Convention or legal frameworks on cross-border dividends within groups of companies; and maintaining a common system of taxation applicable to interest and royalty payments between associated companies from the UK and different EU states.


IP and anti-counterfeiting cooperation: European businesses should be able to rely on continued consistency in the application of IP rules, including the application and protection of trademarks, designs, copyrights and patents. This should be complemented with anti-counterfeiting and anti-fraud cooperation between UK and EU authorities.

Innovation: UK and EU businesses have a shared interest in ensuring ongoing cooperation on knowledge exchange, research priorities and funding, and maintaining open participation in EU and UK R+I+D and education programmes.


dihk-dataGerman enterprises continue to believe in the European integration. The EU and its Single Market are fundamental for business. Based on the free movement of goods, capital, workers and services, which are all intrinsically tied to each other, it provides free trade by overcoming internal borders and regulatory obstacles. The United Kingdom’s decision to depart from the EU has lead to great uncertainty among German companies and must be prevented from becoming a precedent for other Member States. Especially SMEs now fear the setting up of burdensome trade barriers. The Brexit-negotiations thus need to strengthen the European integration while keeping EU-UK-relations as firm and as close to the status quo as possible.

Importance of the EU Single Market

Completing the EU Single Market is one of German businesses and thus DIHK’s top priorities. The further opening of markets combined with the removal of bureaucratic obstacles and barriers to trade in the EU creates prosperity and makes the benefits of the European Union visible to companies and citizens. While abolishing tariff controls nearly 50 years ago has spurred cross-border trade, increased mobility of workers is crucial for businesses to compete and excel with their products and services. An EU-wide level playing field as regards public procurement helps saving taxpayers’ money and the common application of EU-law gives enterprises much needed legal certainty. Furthermore, the Single Market ensures the EU‘s global competitiveness and increases its attractiveness as a place to invest. Given the worldwide emergence of new markets and competitors, this is more important than ever. The basic prerequisite to fully benefit from the Single Market is EU-Membership.


German-UK relationship

Germany and the UK are closely connected both politically and economically. This close partnership should be preserved. The UK is Germany’s fifth largest trading partner. The total sum of imports and exports between both countries exceeds €127 billion. The UK is Germany’s third largest export-market after the US and France. More than 750,000 Jobs in Germany depend on trade with the UK. The UK-market is of particular importance for car-manufacturers, the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. Almost 15 percent of cars manufactured in Germany are sold in the United Kingdom. About 2,500 German companies have branches in the UK, employing about 400,000 British.

Furthermore, the UK and Germany are closely linked in the field of investment and banking. Therefore, investment protection should be a keen interest for both the EU and the UK. At the same time, it is hardly imaginable to have the central financial marketplace of the EU being based outside the Union.


Which future for the EU-UK economic relationship?

Even with an EU-UK agreement that prevents new tariffs, additional bureaucracy will become necessary, e.g. formal notifications to customs authorities. Year by year, the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry issue millions of certificates of origin and other types of foreign trade documentation. When the UK will leave the EU, this will lead to a steep increase of these numbers. This administrative burden will hit German and British exporters. Especially small and medium-sized Enterprises often lack sufficient human and financial resources to tackle the new bureaucratic trade barriers. Thus, it should be in the interest of both sides, to keep burdensome measures as little as possible.

Furthermore, both sides should continue to pursue a forward-looking and open trade policy. Given the worldwide protectionist tendencies and policies on the rise, there is a mutual interest in a common approach to further expanding the rule-based multilateral system of free trade. Common initiatives for opening up world-wide markets would be excellent opportunities to underline the strong commitment of both sides towards each other.

The Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag – DIHK) is the umbrella organization of 79 Chambers in Germany (IHKs) and the worldwide network of 130 business representations abroad. All companies registered in Germany, with the exception of handicraft businesses, the liberal professions and farms, are required by law to join a Chamber. Thus, DIHK speaks for more than 3,6 million enterprises.

Justin Fisher

This week, Professor Justin Fisher writes on the importance of electoral turnout in June’s referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. Why does this impact differ from a general election or any other referendum for that matter?

As the UK referendum on EU membership gets closer, the opinion polls will start to matter a whole lot more. Months out from the referendum, the polls have been difficult to interpret, as there are many voters who have yet to make up their mind. There’s a good reason for this. Despite appearances to the contrary, the EU is not an issue that British voters grapple with on a daily basis. At general elections, it rarely, if ever, features in the top ten most important issues identified by voters. True – immigration has become an increasingly prominent issue, but of course, that includes immigration from outside the EU as well as from within. But as June 23rd gets closer, voters’ attention will increasingly turn to the referendum and a clearer picture will emerge as to the likely outcome.

So, if Europe is not an issue that excites British voters in a way that the NHS or the economy does, will this mean that turnout will have an impact on the result? Comparatively, turnout in referendums tends to be rather lower than for national elections. And that is generally true in the UK as well, whether at national or sub-national level. The 1975 referendum on EEC membership was 64.5%, when in the October general election of 1974, turnout was 72.8%. Not a huge difference necessarily, but the last time there was a UK wide referendum (on the electoral system) in 2011, turnout was only 42%. There are two exceptions, however. Referendums in Northern Ireland in 1998 (the Good Friday agreement) and Scotland in 2014 (Scottish Independence) both had very high turnouts – well in excess of participation at national elections. But both referendums were on questions that carried significant political and emotional involvement on both sides. In the case of Europe, where there is emotional involvement, it is heavily skewed toward the Brexit camp.

With this in mind, low turnout has been seen as a potential threat for the Remain camp. It’s argued that the greater commitment will lead Leave voters to be more likely to turnout. Certainly, the 2014 European elections, with a typically low turnout (35.6%), lead to UKIP being the largest party. Moreover, one of the largest opinion splits is generational. Polls tell us that older people are much more in favour of Brexit, and young people much more in favour of Remain. Importantly, older people are much more likely to vote than younger ones. So, if Remain voters are complacent, the Leave side could win. There’s a strong logic to this view and it may well be correct.

But there’s also an alternative view – that a high turnout may benefit the Leave campaign. Why is that a possibility? First, the UKIP vote tends to be proportionally higher in areas where the demographic characteristics are associated with lower turnout. Coupled with that, those who voted UKIP at the 2015 election were more likely to have not voted in the 2010 election compared with supporters of the main GB parties. Of course, UKIP is not the same as the Leave vote. But we do know that the Leave campaign is disproportionately supported by those with from lower social groups and those with lower levels of education –groups that are generally less likely to vote. All in all, there is some evidence to indicate that those who might be most likely to support Brexit are less likely to be habitual voters. A higher turnout, where these voters are mobilized, could therefore be beneficial for the Leave campaign.

Ultimately, I would probably lean towards the view that it would be a lower turnout that would be more beneficial to the Leave campaign. But, clearly, neither side can take the impact of turnout on the result for granted.

 Justin Fisher is Professor of Political Science at Brunel University London

If you’re eligible to vote and haven’t yet registered, there’s still time. You can register online here

Yesterday, Interel and The British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium were delighted to host Chuka Umunna MP and Jacob Rees-Mogg MP for a head-to-head debate on Britain’s membership of the EU. The two Westminster heavyweights made their cases to a packed audience of business leaders. Words by Alexander Mulchrone, Parliamentary Monitoring Assistant at Interel.

Jacob Rees-Mogg’s top five points:

1. The EU has gradually evolved into a political union which seeks to undermine British sovereignty.

2. The argument that the EU is a free trade block is a fallacy. The EU does not trade freely; it is a customs union. .

3. Europe’s migration policy is fundamentally flawed and in fact ”wicked”.

4. If the UK votes to leave, Britain’s first action should be rolling back regulations on the City of London and opening up markets from EU protectionism.

5. Should the UK vote to leave, the Government will easily ensure a smooth transition as provided for in the European Treaties.


Chuka Umunna’s top five points:

1. The EU’s influence on British politics is overstated. Britain remains the master of its own destiny.

2. Where the EU does play a role in determining policy, it is wrong to suggest that Britain is ”trampled on” by Brussels.

3. The great challenges which nations face in the 21st century are cross-national and global by nature, and so an internationalist approach is important if we are to face up to them.

4. The Eurozone is our biggest trading partner, and it is nonsensical to suggest that we could withdraw from the EU without impacting this trade.

5. Even if we vote to stay, it is important to continue to reform.


To read the full insight on the event visit

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