Brexit: "politicians must listen to businesses"
A good Brexit deal this year is key to the future of UK-France trade worth €100billion a year, says the president of the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Brexit has created uncertainty and challenges for four years, said Thierry Drilhon. “We must exit from this situation. Businesses do not like long periods of uncertainty.” Mr Drilhon said firms had anticipated there would be change due to Brexit, and had tried to factor in possible scenarios, but they had not planned for Covid-19.
Advice for politicians
He said: “I would strongly suggest politicians must take into account the economic environment. “Covid-19 created tremendous challenges and, after this health crisis, now we are in an economic crisis and we need to avoid a social crisis as well. It is key to make sure the recovery of the overall economies is full speed. I hope there is a mutual deal. If it’s not the case, it’s not going to be good news for businesses or for citizens.”
On propelling the economy
He added: “For reigniting the economy, the UK’s quarantine is not good. We want to develop transactions between the countries but if conditions are too hard, business leaders will do their business somewhere else.” Continuing FCO travel advice against non-essential travel was not helpful, he said. Not everything could be done at a distance by video-conferences.
“If there is no deal, then life is going to be harder for Britons and British businesses, and for French and other EU citizens. Think of the young – 14,000 French students per year study in UK universities via Erasmus. What will happen to that? So an overall agreement is needed, not only on trade, taking all components into account. I worry about the very negative impact, without any doubt, of no agreement by January 1. On the other side, I suggest the politicians listen to business and the real world. A positive Brexit could be a chance to rethink the way we do business between France and the UK – what do we want to develop?"
An opportunity to grow
“It is also an opportunity for France to share its attraction and expertise with the UK. Take medicine – there is no insulin production in the UK, but there is in France. How do we build bridges in each industry?” It is also a chance for the EU to rethink how it governs itself and its position as a world leader via economic know-how, he said.