Fashion Roundtable Press Release 28/02/2018 On EU's Draft Exit Treaty
Today Brussels published the draft of it's Brexit Exit Treaty, which you can read here. This is a clearly worded legal text of 120 pages detailing the EU-UK transitional alignment including trade, customs, citizens` rights, intellectual property and the financial settlement. In order to maintain a no-border scenario between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the document states that NI shall remain in the customs union and under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
"A common regulatory area comprising the Union and the United Kingdom in respect of Northern Ireland is hereby established. The common regulatory area shall constitute an area without internal borders in which the free movement of goods is ensured and North-South cooperation protected in accordance with this Chapter. "
"Customs legislation as defined in point (2) of Article 5 of Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council138 as well as other provisions of Union law providing for customs controls of specific goods or for specific purposes listed in Annex 3 to this Protocol shall apply to and in the United Kingdom in respect of Northern Ireland. The territory of Northern Ireland, excluding the territorial waters of the United Kingdom (the "territory of Northern Ireland"), shall be considered to be part of the customs territory of the Union."
This scenario could forecast a future where borderless trade exists in the RoI and NI, while border checks are performed for goods and people leaving or entering mainland UK. This is crunch time. The pressure is mounting on the UK Government to identify a viable alternative to leaving the customs union with the EU and maintaining borderless movement between both Northern Ireland and Ireland, as well as between the island of Ireland and mainland UK.
How can Theresa May support an invisible border between Ireland, Northern Ireland and mainland UK when one part of the UK will be within the customs territory and the rest not? Is this leading us towards a maze of cul-de- sacs and no deal realities for the UK and EU as politicians work to avoid a hard border in Ireland, without border controls with rest of the UK? Is this the first step towards reunification of Ireland? See what this could mean for Ireland here.
With Labour on Monday pushing for the UK to remain within a customs union see Jeremy Corbyn outlining why here, Liam Fox, Trade Secretary saying the opposite on Tuesday see Liam Fox's speech here and former permanent secretary Sir Martin Donnelly, at the Department for International Trade until last year, describing any deals done after Brexit as the similar to "rather like rejecting a three course meal now in favour of the promise of a packet of crisps later", on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme on the same morning, what is becoming clear is that whereas the EU are seeking legal frameworks, within the UK there is a shared commonality if not of vision, then of politicians seeking freestyle, freeform solutions. All with 13 months until the official Brexit date, the lack of shared vision is a real concern. Today at an event hosted by our partners, the Creative Industries Federation, Sir John Major gave a rather realistic speech on the impacts of Brexit and called on the UK Government to rethink their strategy and stay within the European Union.
As we await credible proposals from the UK government, the lack of lobbying from UK industries in mainland Europe is also apparent. Creative industries, and fashion in particular, need to be seen and heard on both sides of the English Channel. Not only is the EU our largest fashion trading partner, within that, Ireland is our largest import partner, and the fashion industry cannot accept a future where border control towards Ireland, NI and mainland Europe will apply at the same time, limiting our industries ability to build and maintain viable supply chains. We call on the UK government to propose measures that protect our fashion industry, textiles and manufacturing sector, promote our cross-border alliances and protect the rights of our freelance employees. Our data, which we worked on with Assay Advisory and sees very similar outcomes to that done by Bloomberg, and BOF, places a 35% loss of GDP, or £8bn a year lost to our UK fashion economy if the UK and EU cannot agree a deal, or the UK decides upon a hard Brexit.
The Fashion industry in the UK currently contributes over £28bn to the economy and in 2015 - 2016 growth rose by 11%. The UK’s Manufacturing and Wholesale/Retail sectors are 6th and 7th largest contributors to the UK economy, with fashion industry being one of the main contributors to both sectors. In terms of employment this translates to 1 in 74 UK citizens working in fashion or related industries. £91.4bn of the GVA contribution came from the creative sector, with fashion being the largest component of this. Fashion Roundtable recognise this and call for more recognition of our value to the UK, EU and global economy.