The Brexit negotiations have (at last!) begun. Both parties, Great Britain and the EU, have taken pains to clarify that they would enter negotiations with a “constructive and positive mind-set”. But we all know that this will be anything but easy. Time is ticking to achieve something that has never been done before. Michel Barnier and his team, representing the EU, and David Davies for the UK will be in the driving seat for the next 15 months, maybe even longer.
If we look back, what has actually happened over the past year since the Brexit vote? Not much to be honest, which is normal as Brexit still hasn’t actually taken place yet. Only the Pound Sterling took a dive of almost 15%, which has allowed the UK to become more competitive with its manufactured goods and more recently, has increased its inflation and the risk of an underlying stagnation.
So if we are to look ahead:
The future looks blurry. This is likely why many companies and even institutions such as the Bank of England have adopted a “wait and see” attitude. It’s hard to act when the rules of the game remain unknown. These first few weeks will set the tone for discussions and could generate the first wave of reactions, but we will have to wait quite some time before really being able to know the true outcome of this Brexit.
But until that time comes, business carries on and Franco-British relations remain as strong as ever. They were a core element before and during Brexit and will continue to be long after.
Olivier Campenon, President of the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce