The Slovenia Times

Brexit Ambition Initiative


The British-Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and the Evropa Misli think tank have established the Brexit Ambition initiative which aims to identify potential difficulties which businesses will encounter as a result of the exit of the UK from the EU. The initiative is also preparing position papers for presentation to the Slovenian Government.

What is the objective of Brexit Ambition?

The Slovenian government has given a mandate to the European Commission to negotiate the exit of the UK, but it must also be based on the real problems of Slovenian companies working with the UK, British companies in Slovenia, as well as the people, creative industries, researchers, universities and so on. Our initiative involves Slovenian companies working with the British market and British companies in Slovenia. To hear as many opinions and potential issues as possible, we will organise three round tables this year and conduct various surveys. The round tables will involve different stakeholders affected by Brexit and at each round table there will be different industries with different points of view. After the round tables, surveys will be conducted and position papers will be presented to the Slovenian government.

How has Brexit already affected business in Slovenia?

After our first round table in April, we saw that companies are particularly anxious to follow the negotiations of a new trade agreement between the UK and the EU. They agreed that the first major issue to be resolved is the mobility of people. The concern here is mainly about the rising cost to business due to possible restrictions on mobility which might involve more administrative burdens. In our survey, conducted after the round table, 40% of companies said their business was impacted by the exchange rate, 7% were affected by employment issues, 7% by investment delays/cancellations, 7% by reduced orders and the rest see no impact as yet.

What impact do you expect Brexit to have on business once the UK has completed its withdrawal from the European Union?

Slovenian companies already exporting to the UK are quite confident that they will continue to do business in the UK, even if trade tariffs will be applied. It is still a premium market that opens doors to global markets. The value chain might be adapted to involve more distributors in the middle that will deal with the administrative procedures, which could increase costs. There could also be a shift of purchasing decisions from the UK to the EU, especially in British companies now owned by EU capital. Brexit could also have an impact on the production sites, they may move or develop more in the EU instead of the UK. British investors in Slovenia are worried about the restriction of capital flows between the UK and the EU. 

What steps should the government take during the negotiations so that the UK's withdrawal agreement is implemented with minimal disruption to business?

All the speakers at our round table were united in the importance of minimal restrictions being implemented between the EU and UK, in terms of standards and regulation, trade tariffs and capital flow. It is also important to keep the administrative processes for business as simple as possible. The status of individuals should not be part of the negotiation process as restrictions on mobility will increase costs for business and make it less competitive globally.

The UK is one of the most innovative and open economies in the world and it is important for EU businesses that the ease of doing business remains, that it continues to be the capital and financial hub in Europe that it is today, and that the UK will still be easy to access and to live and work there.

Our survey identified expectations of no import barriers (33%), that governments guarantee grandfathering provisions such that the regulatory licences will continue to be valid in the UK and EU27 states for a period after Brexit (33%), that workers have the ongoing right to work across the EU and UK (20%), and that industrial/tax policy remains the same in the UK for a period of time (13%).

What have you so far proposed to the Slovenian government?

We have prepared a position paper - a synthesis of our first round table and first survey - which we handed to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The aim of this policy paper is to provide the ministries with information from the businesses that are affected and concerned by Brexit, and to inform them of the crucial issues for the separation negotiations. We will continue to present position papers to the Slovenian government over the next two years as Brexit gets closer.


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