Brexit negotiations have started, but what do we need from them?

As a management consultancy firm with offices in Ireland and the UK, Brexit poses specific operational challenges for us. We are certainly not alone in trying to meet these challenges, as organisations, advocacy groups, think-tanks, governments, and many others try to negotiate the uncertainty that comes with the Brexit process over the next two years.

The special arrangement that exists between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is in the spotlight again, with the announcement of an agreement between the DUP and the Conservative Party to form a minority government. The agreement reached in Westminster adds a deeper layer of complexity to the Brexit issue, and its impact on this island.

I am a board member of the BICC and sit on the Chamber’s Brexit Committee. As the leading business group for companies with interests in the UK and Ireland, we formed this Committee to advocate on behalf of our membership to highlight their issues and priorities concerning Brexit.

The Committee have drawn up a List of 15 key “asks” that should be sought during the negotiation process.

These are:

  • Recognise and take steps to accommodate the significance of the UK market to Ireland.
  • Agree a transitional period to remove the uncertainty that exists because of the potential cliff-edge style Brexit that is severely stifling business decisions in the UK and Ireland.
  • Maintain access to the EU Regulatory and Framework Programmes for the UK.
  • Negotiate a free trade agreement between the UK and EU that will include critical sectors like agri-business.
  • Continuation of the Single Energy Market.
  • Maintain the Common Travel Area without changing the rights currently associated with it.
  • Prevent the creation of a customs border separating Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland.
  • Establish an ‘All Island Health Regime’ on the Island of Ireland mirroring EU regulatory standards to facilitate the trade of livestock and agri-products.
  • Establish an ‘EU Reform Fund’ to provide training for those in the EU affected by the changes to trade and compliance rules.
  • Seek agreement on certain trade terms that can be reached quickly. These should not be used as leverage when negotiating more challenging terms.

These key positions, if adopted during the negotiation process, would provide greater protection for British-Irish trade and provide a more stable environment for companies to operate within.


Tom is a former board member of Co-operation Ireland, the non–political charity dedicated to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. He is a Former Director of BT Ireland and a Finance Vice-President with BT Global. He is also a former president of CIMA Ireland.

He now sits on the Board of Directors of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce and on its Brexit Committee. If you would like to find out more about the work of the Chamber, please contact Tom through LinkedIn here.


The author of the cover image is Ilovetheeu and the image was sourced through Wikicommons. Licence terms are here.

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