Business groups respond to EU's approval of Brexit deal

November 26, 2018 - “It is now up to Parliament to ensure that we can have a transition period from 29 March and avoid a chaotic no-deal Brexit for consumers,” British Retail Consortium (BRC) CEO Helen Dickinson said on Sunday.

“A transition period is essential to give retailers and their suppliers time to adapt to business outside the European Union (EU). Without such a deal, consumers face higher prices, and less choice on the shelves.”

Dickinson’s comments came after European Council president Donald Tusk announced on Sunday morning that the 27 leaders of EU member states that will remain following the UK’s planned departure at the end of March 2019 have agreed to the terms of the deal announced last week by UK prime minister Theresa May.

Tusk said: “The European Council invited the European Commission, the European Parliament and the council to take the necessary steps to ensure that the agreement can enter into force on 30 March 2019, so as to provide for an orderly withdrawal.

“The European Council approved the political declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The European Council restated the Union's determination to have as close as possible a partnership with the United Kingdom in the future."

Tusk acknowledged there is a “difficult process of ratification as well as further negotiations” ahead.

“But regardless of how it will all end, one thing is certain: we will remain friends until the end of days, and one day longer,” he added.

Joining the BRC in commenting on the announcement yesterday, Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, called it a “significant moment in the Brexit process”.

“After what has seemed like slow progress over the last few months, many businesses began to fear that the UK and EU might never reach a deal on the terms of our exit,” he explained.

“However, this step on its own does not resolve the uncertainty for business. It is still far from clear how the UK Parliament will decide to act. The deal the EU approved today provokes a wide range of reactions across the political spectrum, and indeed among business leaders, but the steer from our members is that avoiding no deal must be the main priority.”

Martin added that politicians of all parties must be clear about the consequences of their choice when it comes to vote, adding “there is no perfect choice in this situation, only a balance of risks and trade-offs”.

“Ratifying a withdrawal deal is currently the surest way to deliver certainty about the immediate future when the Article 50 timeline runs out next March, as is written into UK law.”

Many retailers are planning to bring forward supply deliveries and hold more stock over the coming months, as a precautionary supply chain measure against any potential fallout or friction between borders once the UK leaves the EU. Majestic Wine said last week that it will import an additional £5-8 million of stock to mitigate any possible problems with deliveries after the withdrawal date.

Source: Essential Retail