It has been nine months since the British referendum and today the Prime Minister, Theresa May, has officially triggered article 50 and taken the first step towards the UK leaving the EU.
“We regret that the UK Government has decided to take this step” says Director-General of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, Carola Lemne, “This is the beginning of a process entailing great risks for our companies and bringing few positive aspects with it”.
For the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, the main priority going forward is a stable and successful EU with a well-functioning Single Market and an openness to the rest of the world. However, within this framework, it is crucial to find an agreement that secures as close and smooth an economic deal as possible between the EU and the UK.
A classical trade negotiation starts from a situation where barriers exist and the objective is to bring them down. With Brexit, the situation is the reverse as the starting point is free trade, openness and free movement, which is now to be restricted. The consequences of this are entirely dependent on the shape of the future deal. It is in the interest of both the UK and the EU to reach an agreement that causes as few restrictions to trade and investments as possible, and that ensures that citizens and companies on both sides are not affected unnecessarily harshly. The UK is Sweden’s fourth largest trading partner and there are 1,000 Swedish companies and 100 000 Swedish citizens present in the UK, so this is without doubt a Swedish interest.
“We urge politicians on both sides to reach a deal that brings as few restrictions on trade and investment as possible” underlines Carola Lemne.
Two years is a short time to establish a new relationship after 40 years of close co-operation. It necessitates that politicians on both sides can find constructive solutions that will work in the long-term. The limited time available is a risk in that it may mean quick and short-term decisions that are bad for business. Political deadlock may lead to long-term uncertainty and barriers to trade and investments that will have a negative effect on companies.
“The risk of political deadlock is apparent” says Carola Lemne. “A large responsibility is with politicians on both sides to quickly find constructive solutions that secure long-term and continued good trade agreements between the UK and the EU. Failure is not an option”.