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The British Chamber of Commerce | EU & Belgium welcomes the declaration by the European Council that “sufficient progress” has been made in the negotiation of the UK withdrawal from the EU, and its decision to move to phase two. We urge the Commission to proceed swiftly with the negotiations on a withdrawal agreement incorporating the terms of the joint report of 8 December. We also urge the Council to grant the Commission a mandate to open negotiation on a transitional period at the earliest possible occasion. We stress that the withdrawal agreement which includes the transitional arrangements should be adopted well ahead of the 29 March 2019 deadline. We further welcome the Council’s intention to start discussions on a negotiation mandate for the future EU-UK relations early in the new year.

Our member companies have a common interest in the success of Europe as a whole, including both the EU and Britain. We hope that the EU27 and the UK will negotiate a deep and comprehensive agreement that supports the invaluable relations between the two partners.

First and foremost an orderly withdrawal agreement must be reached, which includes a transitional period that allows all economic activity to continue unhindered during and after Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. The transitional arrangements shall ideally maintain the status quo and ensure the application of the acquis communautaire in the UK for the period necessary to grant businesses certainty, until the full implementation of the future relationship.

With little time available for extremely complex negotiations and ambitious objectives, we are calling for profound and constructive progress in the weeks ahead on negotiating the transitional arrangements and a framework for the future. We will continue working with the negotiating authorities and national business representatives across the UK and EU27 to forge common understanding that a strong and close future relationship is in the best interest of everyone.

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Press Contact: Uzma Lodhi – Head of Communications – +32 2613 2855

 

About the Chamber

The chamber has been serving the international business community here for over 100 years and we are committed to the long term – continuing to be the ultimate Gateway to Europe. Our members are small to large businesses from Britain and across the world – all with a stake in the success of Europe and its economy. They employ 1.2m people in the UK alone, with at least as many again in the rest of Europe.

UK_EU relations blog

By Daniel Neale, Communications Officer at the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium

In the middle of last week’s EU summit, Prime Minister David Cameron was able to squeeze in the UK’s membership renegotiation process. With the talks now officially underway, he stated that “renegotiation will seek a new and better membership for the UK. One that is in EU, but not run by it”.  So what implications will this have for the future of EU-UK relations?

This Friday, 3 July, British Ambassador to Belgium Alison Rose will give a briefing for members at the British Chamber.

After asserting that “Britain’s relationship with the European Union needs to change” through “reform, renegotiation, and referendum”, the Prime Minister called for these actions to take place under four key areas:

Sovereignty: The concept of an ever closer union must be revised and recognised, as “the EU interferes too much” and decisions must be taken back to the UK, he believes.

Fairness: The interests of both those inside and outside are to be fairly balanced, calling for a flexible membership whereby “the single currency does not apply to all but the single market and the EU works for all”.

On immigration, Cameron stated that “we need to tackle the welfare incentives that attract so many people across the EU to seek work in Britain”.

Above all, Mr Cameron said that competitiveness and the common market must be “once again at the heart of the UK’s membership in the EU”, returning them both towards a continued source of jobs, growth, and innovation.

His commitment to stay in the EU is clear, but the steps needed to achieve it are not. As late as January, Mr Cameron was demanding a “proper, full-on treaty change”. Yet at last week’s European Council, admissions were made that the ratification of an EU treaty change by all 28 member states will not be complete by the time Britain votes in its in-out referendum of 2017. The PM has argued instead for an ‘irreversible lock’ and ‘legally binding’ guarantees that EU law will at some point in the future be changed to accommodate Britain’s aims.

On Friday 3 July, the British Chamber will hold a breakfast meeting with British Ambassador to Belgium Alison Rose, where she will be talking about the current and future relationship between the EU and the UK. This will no doubt be a revealing event in which members will be able to benefit from crucial insight on how the negotiation process will be likely to evolve. If you are interested in joining, please register for the event.

On Tuesday the 5th March 2013, the Brussels New Generation (BNG), in cooperation with Votewatch, held an event focusing on Finding the Patterns of EU Decision-making at the British Chamber of Commerce.

Hosted by Doru Frantescu, Policy Director and Cofounder of Votewatch, the presentation engaged in topics such as the powerplay within the European Parliament between political parties, the voting coherence between MEPs and national delegations and indeed the national alignments which occur within the Council on specific policy areas.

The event highlighted the meticulous detail required to study and understand patterns throughout the EU decision-making process, particularly spotlighting the need to understand how certain parties have a high success rate in gaining policy initiatives within certain Committees. For example it has been shown that both the EPP and Alde groups gain over 90% of legislative parity within the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee.

The BNG is aware of the growing need of businesses to understand and have knowledge of the ever-shifting processes of EU decision-making for long term strategic planning, this was underscored by the high attendance and engaged audience during the Q&A session led by Richard Corliss, Chair of the BNG group.

This event gave prominence to the core themes of the BNG group, informing the next business leaders of key areas of interest, providing a neutral platform for networking and developing links between businesses within Brussels.

Votewatch is a non-profit organisation founded in 2009 from the London School of Economics. Its goal is to generate better debate on EU decisions and enhance transparency for the public on legislative voting. Since 2009 it has collected over 3700 voting items from 754 MEPs and monitored over 38 Council votes.

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