28 September 2018


Shifting sands on the road to Brexit

CBI calls for calm heads as the dust settles after the informal Salzburg European Council meeting in Austria.

Shifting sands on the road to Brexit

Last week, Austria hosted an informal meeting of EU leaders in Salzburg ahead of next month’s European Council Summit to discuss the EU’s response to immigration and progress on the UK-EU negotiations. Despite positive mood music going into the meeting, EU leaders’ concerns about the UK Government’s White Paper on the Future Economic Relationship (FER) meant that the Prime Minister, Theresa May, expressed frustration with the approach being taken to negotiations. 

Responding to these developments, the CBI called for both sides to change tack and break the stalemate in negotiations. With only six months until the Article 50 deadline is reached, the CBI emphasised that employers and employees alike need to see constructive dialogue, with pragmatism coming before politics. Every day lost in rhetoric is lost investment and lost jobs. 

Read the CBI’s full statement 

With the Article 50 deadline looming, negotiations are becoming more politically charged and economically complicated, and political posturing such as that witnessed over the past week is inevitable. All eyes are now on Conservative party conference, beginning on Monday, which will inevitably bring some political turmoil. However, following this party conference there are only two weeks until the October EU Council Summit, and attention will be drawn swiftly to this event. 

One of the key stumbling blocks in talks is the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, with both sides agreeing that there can be no withdrawal agreement without a working backstop agreement. The Prime Minister confirmed that the UK would "shortly" be coming forward with new proposals on the backstop arrangements if no viable long-term solution was found. 

Over the coming weeks the CBI will continue speaking with leaders in Britain, Ireland, Northern Ireland and the EU throughout these political developments, emphasising members’ views on the urgent need to make progress on securing the Withdrawal Agreement. 

For more information, insight and intelligence on the latest Brexit developments and its implications, visit the CBI’s Brexit hub, or contact EUNegotiations@cbi.org.uk.