The Prime Minister has called for unchanged access to EU markets during the Brexit transition period.
Speaking in parliament today, Theresa May said there was a “shared desire” between the EU and UK to make “rapid progress” on an implementation period.
During the transition, May said the UK would be out of the Single Market and Customs Union but “we would propose that our access to one another’s markets would continue as now”.
May added that the UK would negotiate and “where possible” sign trade deals which would come into force after the transition period.
The PM’s comments came as a senior adviser to Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, said businesses would only get absolute certainty about the Brexit transition when the withdrawal agreement is finalised, which could be as late as October 2018.
Speaking at Chatham House today, Stefaan De Rynck said the transition deal was “not a given” yet. He said: “I know it is very uncomfortable – stakeholders say we have contingency planning, what do we do, it’s a cost. It’s up to business to see. We are, in the commission at least, continuing with no deal planning.”
City of London Corporation’s policy chief Catherine McGuinness said businesses urgently needed certainty on the transition period.
“Waiting until the autumn of 2018 for certainty on transition will quite simply be too late for many firms. They need a steer now by politicians on how transition might work.
“We need early progress on this in the talks between the UK and EU27 politicians in the new year. This work also needs to be supported by relevant regulators to give firms the degree of certainty they need to plan accordingly.”
However, she added that decisions made prematurely were not ideal and in no one’s interest. “These costs would then be passed on to customers, so it’s important that decisions are right,” McGuinness said.
Allie Renison, head of EU and trade policy at the Institute of Directors, expects the agreement on transition to be translated into legislation as soon as possible. “Council president Donald Tusk has also made it clear that the EU’s offer on this has already been drawn up and will be negotiated before the end-state is fully fleshed out,” Renison said.