No-deal Brexit threatens viability of aeronautics and chemical industries in both UK and EU

At a high level discussion on Brexit's impact on the aeronautics and chemical industries, organised by the Consultative Commission for Industrial Change (CCMI) at the EESC, speakers agreed that the UK should stay aligned with EU laws, and that for chemicals, the REACH regulation was key. As for the aeronautics industry, agreements on reciprocity in the most important areas should be put in place and the planned transition period be extended to at least five years.

"It is crucial to find reciprocity solutions for the main sectors" warned Jan Pie, secretary-general of the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD), who called for a longer transition period. The impact of a no deal would for the most part fall on the supply chain because just-in-time delivery needed a smooth supply chain. Components often had to cross the Channel several times before the product was finally assembled. A blockage involving just one item could bring the whole supply chain to a halt. The same also applied to the movement of workers: the specialists who needed to move quickly between Britain and the EU. The major concern for enterprises was divergence between EU and UK regulation.

A Brexit deal was also indispensable for the chemical industry, underlined Ian Cranshaw, head of international trade at the Chemical Industries Association (CIA). With a turnover of GBP 18 billion, plus 150 000 direct and 500 000 indirect jobs, the chemical industry was of crucial importance to the UK. What the industry needed most was certainty. Mr Cranshaw's organisation had conducted a survey of the companies it represented and not a single company had come back saying that Brexit would benefit them.

"The lesson we might draw from this situation is to better communicate the achievements of the Single Market and the many advantages – for both industry and the citizens – that come with EU membership," CCMI president Lucie Studničná concluded.

The question as to who would benefit from Brexit at the end of the day remained unanswered. (sma)