The second EURIS Summit recently took place at the House of Lords and The Shard, respectively.
As a key member of EURIS, the BPMA was again represented at the event by its President, Duncan Lewis and its Director & CEO, Steve Schofield. The Summit helped to further raise the political profile of EURIS and was attended by two Ministers - Robin Walker MP (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at DExEU) and Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at BEIS).
Lord Henley spoke at the House of Lords reception on the evening of Tuesday 11th September and engaged with several key EURIS members and their European colleagues. While Robin Walker spoke and took questions during the meeting at The Shard the following day (12th September), as well as making the time to stay and listen to several presentations.
The event was attended by a significant number of European counterparts as well as key industry stakeholders (with the House of Lords reception being attended by a good number of political stakeholders).
The primary message from the event, which was clear and evident in all the presentations given, is that the UK’s industrial product supply sector (which is worth £148 Billion and employs some 1.1 million people) desperately wants a business-friendly Brexit. Maintaining close regulatory alignment, along with barrier free trade for intermediary products and components with the EU, is seen to be key if the UK is to retain any measure of global competitiveness.
A key part of the Summit was to highlight the results of an industry-wide survey, recently conducted by the University of Sussex-based UKTPO and EURIS into the impact of a no-deal exit from the European Union. This extensive survey heralded the publication of a EURIS Report, entitled ‘Securing a competitive UK manufacturing industry post Brexit’, which formed the bedrock of much of the discussion.
Key findings in the report include:
- EU Regulation enables industry to remain competitive in a global market. 83% of survey respondents support continued regulatory alignment with the EU. Product regulation has a critical role in ensuring that a high standard of safe and compliant goods be placed on the EU market. There is no benefit in moving away from the EU regulatory system for industrial and manufactured products.
- Imports account for over half of total costs for 44% of companies. Any increase in barriers to trade will have significant impact on the UK’s global competitiveness. Our competitive advantage in non-EU markets depends on the UK having barrier free-trade for intermediary products and components with the EU. Notably, 52% of EURIS survey respondents stated that over half their sales were intermediate inputs for other companies.
- The longer the uncertainty over the Brexit process continues, the more long-lasting damage will be incurred by our businesses. EU 27-member states have been warned to ‘prepare for the worst’ and review their supply chains. For most companies changing suppliers is a significant decision, and one very rarely reversed and some EU27 companies have already started to select non-UK suppliers. One third of EURIS survey respondents are already thinking about or have already changed suppliers due to Brexit - sales have already been lost.
- It is not a choice of exporting to Europe or the rest of the world. If we become less competitive in the EU we will be less competitive in other international markets. The UK Government’s target to develop stronger trading relationships with other non-EU countries is a positive move, but this can only be achieved if we maintain a strong alignment with EU regulations and supply chains.
Other key conclusions from the survey include:
Four in ten companies say they will face a skills shortage without EU workers.
- 15% of firms believe even a two-hour delay at customs would impose additional costs on their business
- Just 4% of respondents had no concerns about any element of Brexit impacting their business.
- Approximately 1/3 of respondents have already seen a fall in investment due to Brexit with only 2% reporting an increase.
A summary of key points raised in the report has been sent to all EURIS political stakeholders including officials, special advisers, MPs, Ministers and Peers. All EURIS Trade Association members have been sent a draft letter on the report for sending to constituency MPs as appropriate.
Robin Walker tweeted after the event (tagging EURIS): Pleased to speak at the @EURIStaskforce summit today and discuss our ambitious proposal on goods, which meets the key requirements for the manufacturing industry set out in the recent EURIS report.
EURIS Sector Panel
In another development, EURIS has been asked by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to recruit a small number of member companies for a EURIS Sector Panel/Brexit Consultation Group.
The Panel will provide a forum for strategic engagement between government and industry in respect of Electronics, Electrical Equipment and Machinery for the future economic partnership (FEP) between the UK and the EU. The first meeting of this group took place on 18th September and was attended by officials from across BEIS, HMRC and DExEU.
The Steering Panel will convene every 2 months, or as appropriate, though the regularity of the meeting may change depending on the negotiating timeline. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, working closely with EURIS, will act as the Secretariat for the meetings and it is currently anticipated the Panel will sit as required from Autumn 2018 to March 2019.