Companies across Europe have warned Prime Minister Theresa May that “clarity and certainty” is necessary over the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU as “time is running out”.
The European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT), which represents the 50 biggest industrial companies in Europe, met with Theresa May to discuss the future of Britain’s trading relationship with the EU.
Business executives who attended the meeting included the outgoing chairman of BP, Carl-Henric Svanberg, Nestle chairman, Paul Bulcke, Vodafone CEO, Vittorio Colao, and the CEO and chairman of BMW, Harald Kruger.
The group warned that “uncertainty causes less investment”.
In a statement released after Wednesday’s meeting, the ERT said: “We appreciate the prime minister’s openness to ERT views and were able to express our own views and concerns.
“The uninterrupted flow of goods is essential to both the EU and UK economies.
“This must be frictionless as with a customs union.
“We need clarity and certainty, because time is running out. Uncertainty causes less investment.”
The EU Customs Union costs of 28 countries that import and export with each other freely. In other words, there are no quotas or tariffs.
After the meeting a spokesperson for the prime minister said that Theresa May told the business leaders that work is underway for two types of customs arrangements with the EU post-Brexit. The prime minister has already ruled out remaining part of the EU customs union.
Theresa May also said that the government remains committed to avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
Downing Street said the prime minister “underlined the importance of ensuring that our future trading arrangements with the EU are as frictionless as possible, delivering on the commitments to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and allowing the UK to pursue an independent trade policy”.
“The PM recognised the necessity of providing certainty for businesses, pointing to the agreement of an implementation period at the European Council in March to provide time to allow businesses to prepare for the new arrangements.”