UK business groups are keen for the outcome of talks between Brussels and the UK to result in positive action being taken to help small businesses thrive and put the economy first.
As the formal negotiations begin, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has already been in contact with those on both sides of the process to help facilitate this.
One of the first actions taken by the groups was a letter written to Business Secretary, Greg Clark. FSB joined forces with The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Institute of Directors (IoD) and British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) to insist that ministers secure a ‘tariff-free goods trade’ between the UK and EU, plus protect the existing benefits of free trade agreements delivered through the EU.
Earlier this month, Martin McTague, Policy Director at FSB visited the European Commission to meet with the EU Article 50 Taskforce. This is the first meeting of its kind between a UK business group and the team led by Michel Barnier, Chief Negotiator for the EU Commission’s Taskforce for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the UK.
Commenting on the meeting McTague stated: “In many respects it was absolutely right that we should be the first group to see the taskforce, meeting with Deputy Negotiator François Arbault and his team. Small businesses should be at the forefront of the negotiations, on both sides, given the complexity of EU supply chains within which our members exist.”
Soon to be published are the results of a major research programme conducted by FSB, that seeks to discover the key challenges that small and medium sized businesses will face in terms of their access to the EU single market. The research also will investigate access to skills, labour and mobility, EU funding and the future regulatory framework.
Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC, said businesses had felt disappointed that the economy had been side-lined in recent months and they wanted assurances they would be listened to as negotiations proceed:
“As we enter into the most important negotiations that our country will embark on in our lifetimes, the economy must be front and centre … Without a strong economy with strong businesses, the things we all want for our country are not going to come to pass. We can’t redistribute a shrinking pie. We need to be growing that pie, and that’s a shared job between business and government.”
McTague expressed positivity for the future as he explained that FSB has “a strong working relationship with all key UK Governmental Departments”.
He added: “We also have a strong working relationship with senior leaders and working officials within the UK Civil Service…FSB will also continue to work with our pan-European partners in EMOTA, the European eCommerce Association, which will shortly publish a position paper to ensure the ongoing viability of the eCommerce sector.”