A “critical milestone” has been reached in the Brexit negotiations, according to business leaders, as the transition period has been agreed.
In a joint press conference between David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, and the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator, Michel Barnier, it was confirmed that terms on the time-limited implementation period have been agreed – something that Mr Davis said “gives certainty demanded by businesses and citizens across the European Union and the United Kingdom.”
As part of the agreements announced in Brussels, it has been confirmed that the transition period will run from 29 March 2019 to 31 December 2020.
During that time, EU citizens arriving in the UK will be given the same rights as those who arrive before Brexit – this is important for the construction industry, who have long since campaigned for access to skilled workers in the EU.
Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), believes the transition deal represents common sense for the business community.
She said: “Agreeing transition is a critical milestone that will provide many hundreds of businesses with the confidence to put their contingency planning on hold and keep investing in the UK.
“It is a welcome gift of time for firms on both sides. While some sectors may need more than 20 months to prepare for post-Brexit life, this is a victory for common sense that will protect living standards, jobs and growth.”
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is pleased with the transition period agreement, and Mike Cherry, National Chairman, believes it is crucial for small businesses to have access to skilled workers beyond Britain’s formal exit from the European Union.
He said: “One in five small business employers has EU staff on their books. Often, these EU citizens are bringing skills that are hard to find elsewhere.
“That’s why it’s so important that small firms have access to the European talent they need beyond Brexit day, and EU workers arriving during the transition period have their rights protected.”