Six months after the EU membership referendum in the UK and much uncertainty remains about the shape that the future relationship between the two. One of the biggest questions are now being asked about the type of trade deal the UK will reach with the EU post-Brexit.
Aiming to shed some light on the question, the Information Office of the European Parliament in London held an event last month which brought together political, academic and industry experts in the area of trade.
The event, moderated by BBC’s Business Correspondent Joe Lyman began with a presentation by Professor Peter Holmes who offered the audience an overview of the current trade relationship between the UK and the EU as well as potential future models. Prof. Holmes argued that “temporary European Economic Area membership would be too complex”.
The pannelists were invited to share their views on their respective industries. Chief Executive Officer of TheCityUK, Miles Celic, said that financial industry calls for certainty. He pointed that maintaining a close relationship between the UK and the EU will help secure the long-term investments many companies have planned on making.
“The British aerospace sector is also closely linked to the EU”, pointed Mr Jeegar Kakkad, Chief Economist & Director of Policy at ADS Group. He agreed that UK is the best place for aviation and innovation because of its smart factories and skilled workforce, but pointed out that the UK alone will never make entire aircrafts again and that it has to remain part of global supply chains. “The UK aviation industry wants to retain its ties with the EU aviation safety agency”, he added.
David Martin MEP emphasized the crucial role the European Parliament will play in the Brexit process. He pointed out that any agreement between the UK and the EU will have to be approved by the Members of the European Parliament. Mr Martin also reminded the audience that EU membership already provides preferential access to 50 other markets, which the UK can potentially lose when leaving the bloc.
The panel discussion was rounded up by a series of questions from the audience which touched upon the questions of supply chains for small and medium-sized enterprises, work-permits and the future of the European Union at large.
A recording of the event will soon be available on the European Parliament Information Office’s website.