With the triggering of Article 50 by UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Cefic, the EU chemical industry association, calls for EU and UK politicians to take a pragmatic approach to negotiations.
Britain confirmed its objective to withdraw from the European Union. While Prime Minister May states the UK will be looking to discuss trade in parallel to the terms of withdrawal, the EU has given signals that no discussions around trade will be possible until those terms are agreed.
It is clear that in any future solution the integrity of a strong single market based on four fundamental freedoms of the EU needs to be preserved.
Marco Mensink, Cefic Director General reacted, “We appreciate negotiators have a very difficult and sensitive task ahead. Politicians on both sides must provide the earliest possible signal concerning how the EU and UK will trade in future so companies on both sides can continue their mutually beneficial trading relationship. Certainty will help chemical companies adapt and continue doing business in a rational and predictable manner. Decisions about continued investment can only be made based on long-term predictability.”
The UK has been a highly integrated part of the European chemical industry and manufacturers on both sides of the Channel have benefitted from the single market and open borders since decades. Other major industry sectors like automotive and construction heavily rely on chemical products for their business. In 2014, the UK chemical industry represented about 9% of total EU-28 sales while EU-27 exports to the UK were 22.3 bn Euro and imports were around 20.3bn Euro.