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After 47 years of membership, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union tonight. Political negotiations are to follow swiftly, to secure the UK’s plan to have a trade deal ready by the end of 2020, which seems ambitious to most observers. Yet, businesses on both sides will surely step up their efforts to strengthen and expand relations across the Channel in the months to come, while identifying Brexit-related risks and securing preferred outcomes.
Post-Brexit, strategic economic alliances will be the order of the day. Agreeing on common positions and coordinating initiatives will enable respective stakeholders to make the most of the regulatory and political environments, and raise negotiators’ awareness of practical risks connected to their decisions. Exchanges are likely to remain politically charged for the foreseeable future, and businesses should persist in articulating their perspectives and assessments.
Much is at stake for the economic sector: Intertwined supply chains, multilingual research projects, cross-border financing and trusted business links have flourished during the UK’s EU membership. Brexit does not end these relationships but puts them at risk – all the more important to address political decision-makers on both sides of the table with consistent messaging and robust expectations.
However, businesses should be in for more than lobbying their interests and communicate a credible and pragmatic vision of the future relationship from an economic point of view to the wider public. Finding common ground, pushing thought leadership on major economic issues, and applying proactive outreach strategies should be integral parts of businesses’ approach.