Today, British Prime Minister Theresa May will officially notify the European Council of Britain’s intention to withdraw from the European Union (EU). On behalf of the business community, which has a significant stake in the outcome, we hope the UK and the EU will approach the upcoming negotiations with open minds and a firm commitment to provide clarity on the way forward as quickly as possible.
As the formal negotiating clock starts, we are eager to see London and Brussels move smartly toward a mutually acceptable agreement on the structure of their relationship. The U.S. firms that have invested $600 billion in Britain and trillions more elsewhere in Europe would be among those harmed by the failure to reach an agreement, which could, in turn, impact the millions of workers they employ.
Over the next two years, negotiators must agree on whether to retain or modify a wide array of rules, regulations, financial commitments, information sharing arrangements, and countless other agreements forged during Britain’s 44-year membership in the EU. These talks will be incredibly complicated and at times contentious. It will be essential for both sides to demonstrate sufficient flexibility to secure a mutually acceptable outcome. Given the complexity of the issues at stake, as well as the significant economic implications, stakeholders also must be closely consulted throughout the process of reframing this economic relationship.
Strong commercial ties between the UK and EU are indispensable for companies doing business on both sides of the Channel. We urge the UK and EU to work toward an ambitious free trade agreement once the terms of the UK’s exit become clear. So far, we are encouraged by the positive statements from the British government as well as the European Commission calling for such an arrangement.
The U.S. Chamber’s U.S.-UK Business Council has outlined the business community’s priorities in these negotiations, including unfettered market access, minimally-disrupted movement of labor, financial services, data flows, tax policy, and the need for an adequate transition period.
The Council will work with UK, EU, and U.S. policymakers to ensure that the priorities of the business community are understood as the UK resets its relationship with the EU and, when the time is right, as the U.S. and the UK consider the evolution of their commercial relationship. We look forward to working toward solutions that promote economic growth and create jobs.