BusinessEurope, which comprises 40 member federations from 34 European countries, issued a statement just ahead of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty that signals the start of the Brexit talks.
The statement, released as the UK’s historic Article 50 letter was set to be hand delivered to European Council President Donald Tusk on Wednesday afternoon, said, “The decision of the UK to leave the EU opens up factors of uncertainty. It is therefore, essential to organise the exit of the UK from the EU in an orderly and constructive manner.”
It said that a significant part of EU and UK jobs depend on exports, and that production processes are “profoundly inter-twined” across the wider Europe.
“The creation of unnecessary obstacles to trade and investment as well as of unfair conditions of competition should be avoided,” said the Brussels based group.
BusinessEurope is urging negotiators to ensure that the “new model” that will govern EU-UK relations after Brexit is in line with several principles including the “integrity of the single market, based on its four freedoms”.
Any future deal should try to maintain close economic relations between the EU and the UK and organises a “smooth transition” towards a future trade agreement.
This, it says, would allow business to “prepare and adjust to the new situation.”
The deal to be thrashed out between Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, and the UK should “mitigate the adverse effects of Brexit for companies and citizens” and provide legal certainty “as soon as possible.”
The document, “Preliminary reaction to the triggering of Article 50” hopes the agreement can be concluded in a “reasonable and predictable period of time.”
It goes on, “Discussions must involve all relevant stakeholders in order to properly tackle all relevant issues including customs duties and procedures, market access and regulatory convergence.
“It is in the interest of both the EU and the UK to pursue mutually beneficial relations in the future, in a level playing field environment. The exit of the UK from the EU must be smooth. Negotiations should be led in a true spirit of partnership and mutual loyalty.
“Negotiators must avoid any ambiguity about the commitment to free trade on both sides and access to the EU single market should be based on the right balance between rights and obligations.”
The statement concludes, “The future relationship between the UK and EU must be based on reciprocity with the UK having the rights and obligations of a non-EU member. The best trade agreements are not stuck in time, so we favour an agreement that adjusts to changes in the long-term partnership between the EU and UK.”
Some believe that official Brexit talks could begin on April 29 at the next planned summit bringing together the leaders of the 27 remaining EU member states in Brussels.
The key topics are set to be the exit bill the UK is required to pay to the EU for the price of leaving, rights for EU citizens to remain within the UK following Brexit and vice-versa, the future freedom of movement for, above all, people and goods and the complicated political situation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Should the UK successfully exit the EU within the designated two years from the triggering of Article 50, the process should be completed by April 2019.