Cautious approval to Brexit papers given as business groups urge clarity on transition

Catherine Neilan
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Business groups have called on the UK and EU to accelerate talks on a transitional arrangement, as industry chiefs gave a cautious welcome to the government’s latest Brexit position papers.

The Department for Exiting the EU (DexEU) yesterday revealed four key aims for goods on the market when talks resume next week.

"These four principles demonstrate that the UK is getting on with the job of negotiating," the department said.

"Taken together, they would prevent bureaucracy and unnecessary duplication of effort by business, or restricted supply of certain products to consumers, which might otherwise occur."

The second paper, regarding confidentiality and access to documents, said a reciprocal framework must be established to maintain current standards.

While these positions were given a thumbs up by business chiefs, industry representatives insisted securing a transitional agreement was a greater priority, with the Institute of Directors’ head of Europe and trade policy Allie Renison suggesting that transition should have its own position paper.

David Hansom, procurement and trade partner at law firm Clyde & Co, said: “The services sector, in particular financial services, is an even more important export market for the UK, and negotiations are likely to be more contentious in this area particularly around access to markets and professional recognitions.”

The need to secure a transitional agreement also loomed large for some, with the Institute of Directors’ head of Europe and trade policy Allie Renison suggesting it could have its own position paper.

John Foster, CBI’s director of campaigns, said: “The only way to provide companies with the reassurance they need is through the urgent agreement of interim arrangements. This would ensure that goods and services can still flow freely giving companies the certainty they need to invest.

“Both sides should agree to move talks on to interim arrangements as soon as possible to stem the loss of investment.”

However, the Slovenian Prime Minister yesterday indicated that the UK’s papers may all come to nothing for the immediate future.

Miro Cerar told the Guardian not enough progress had been made on the three “basic issues” of citizens rights, the financial settlement and the Irish border for the European Council to approve expanding the talks to include trade.

Renison said the next round of talks would allow outsiders to establish on which side talks were being held up.

“The EU still has questions to answer about why people should receive clarity over what happens on Brexit day and not businesses – after all, businesses employ people,” she added.

Dexeu’s four focuses for goods in trade

* To ensure goods placed on the market before exit day can continue to be sold in the UK and EU without any additional requirements or restrictions.

* To avoid unnecessary duplication of compliance activities that have been undertaken by businesses prior to exit. This means where products have gone through an authorisation process prior to exit, for example a type approval for a car, this approval should remain valid in both markets after exit.

* To ensure patient safety and consumer protection in the EU27 and UK are maintainedby agreeing continued oversight of products to ensure the necessary action can be taken for non-compliant or unsafe goods.

* Where goods are supplied with services, to ensure there is no restriction to the provision of these services.