EU and UK businesses ‘in denial’ over hard trade-offs lying ahead on Brexit, new study reveals

Written by Martin Banks on 16 March 2018 in News
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First ever social media study of industry attitudes to Brexit shows divergence of views across sectors.

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UK and European companies have very different concerns about the impact of Brexit, according to a new study.

It says that while UK companies tend to focus on the sectoral impact of Britain’s EU exit, their European counterparts talk mostly about the macro-economic consequences of the UK’s departure from the EU which is due to take place at the end of March 2019.

There is also concern about the impact on trade, labour shortages, supply chains and regulation.


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But a possible downturn in the financial sector has emerged as the primary concern, says the study, which was conducted by London-based Madano and Brussels-based think tank, BOLDT.

It claims to be the first ever social media study of industry attitudes to Brexit.

Other key findings include:

  • UK companies are more concerned about a potential downturn in their sector than European companies (19.2% compared with 16.5%).
  • Transport trade bodies are most concerned about market access (27% of tweets), supply chain (19%), sector downturn (18%) and labour shortages (15%).
  • Trade bodies in the construction and housing industry are worried about labour shortages (40%) and supply chain (30%).
  • The tech sector frets about market access (33%) and labour shortages – but of the highly skilled variety (28%).

Michael Evans, managing partner of Madano, said, “Companies across the UK and Europe are in denial about the hard trade-offs ahead with Brexit. Analysing their social media channels, it is clear that many companies believe that Brexit is an issue for their respective pan-European trade bodies to communicate about. Given the current state of EU-UK negotiations over Brexit, we feel that this is a huge potential mistake given the vacuum that this creates. How much longer can the mantra of business as usual last?”

"It is clear that many companies believe that Brexit is an issue for their respective pan-European trade bodies to communicate about. Given the current state of EU-UK negotiations over Brexit, we feel that this is a huge potential mistake given the vacuum that this creates" Madano managing partner Michael Evans

Further comment came from former Dutch Socialist MEP Michiel van Hulten, a founding partner of BOLDT, who said, “The finance, construction and food and drink industries appear to share similar concerns on both sides of the Channel. But there is a clear divergence of views in pharma, tech, energy and transport, where sector-specific issues such as the relocation of the European Medicines Agency from London to Amsterdam and the future of data protection rules are having an impact.”

He added, “These differences will become more apparent as the negotiations on a new trading arrangement between the UK and the EU27 get underway. And they are likely to cause tensions within pan- European trade bodies, which could lead to them breaking up or UK companies being relegated to observer status.”

The analysis is based on research conducted by Madano’s specialist Insights team in January and February which gathered and analysed the social media activity of 1000 of the top companies in Europe based on revenue.

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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