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CBI sets out which European agencies and forums UK can leave and which it must stay close to

With Brexit talks set to move onto phase two of negotiations in early 2018, one of the most complex issues to resolve will be the UK’s future relationship with EU rules and regulations. The bodies that create, monitor and enforce those pan-European rules are a key part of that puzzle for British business. The CBI argues that there are a number of European bodies where the UK could regain sovereignty over regulation and leave, but also a number of world leading bodies that the UK must remain a part of for economic reasons and to maintain our global influence.

In a new report – The Room Where it Happens – the UK’s leading business group makes clear that there are a number of European bodies which are world-leading and completely unique, setting industry policy standards at a global level – not just an EU one. After Brexit, whatever the deal, UK companies will be implementing the rules these bodies help set and being ‘in the room’ will give the UK greater control over its future. These include: The European Aviation Safety Agency; The European Chemicals Agency and The European Medicines Agency, among others.

Analysing the role and responsibilities of 39 decentralised agencies and industry forums, the CBI assessed the significance of each in terms of importance to businesses, placing them into five categories:

  1. World leading bodies where continued UK involvement is economically crucial, fiscally sensible, and boosts the UK’s global influence e.g. European Food Safety Authority, The European Committee for Standardization etc.
  2. Highly complex bodies where covering areas of highly detailed and rapidly changing regulation means that industry is seeking a unique solution. The UK and EU may wish to set out a new way of making and monitoring regulation covered by these bodies over time e.g. The European Banking Authority, The European Securities and Markets Authorities etc.
  3. Significant bodies where, if the UK government chooses to stay a part of the regulatory frameworks they govern, UK involvement is important to industry e.g. The European Maritime Safety Agency etc.
  4. Bodies that are not strongly linked to trade where businesses can support the UK’s departure
  5. Not CBI member priorities

Nicole Sykes, CBI Head of EU negotiations, said:

“As we head into phase two of talks, how the UK and EU manage rules and regulations between each other in the future will be one of the most complex issues to agree on. “For those EU bodies which set the bar for industry standards across the world, not just Europe, it is critical that we stay in the room to maintain our voice on issues which will impact British businesses.

“Negotiators face a monumental task in untangling 40 years of economic integration but it’s one they simply must get right. Failure to do so would mean businesses here and in Europe will be forced to jump through hoops with new costs, delays and paperwork that would hamstring their operations and impact on consumers.

“There will be tough decisions and compromises ahead, but negotiators must put jobs and living standards first when making those calls. Where it is sensible and practical to do so, the UK Government is right to repatriate some rules and that will mean more responsibility for some UK authorities. These extra responsibilities must be matched by extra resource.

“But in other areas, like chemicals, product standards and aviation, UK businesses will continue to have to apply EU rules to trade – no matter what deal is struck. That’s not just trading companies but the thousands of firms in their supply chains.

“In some areas, like medicines, aviation and data, the EU has established unique systems that lead the world. In these areas, it’s in the UK’s interests to remain a part of the EU’s rules and the bodies that set them – to maintain control over the rules that affect UK firms, leading the rest of the world and keeping prices down for consumers and businesses on both sides.

“The CBI has had thousands of conversations with companies in the 18 months since the UK’s vote to leave the EU, and it is clear that rules and the bodies that set them will be one of the key issues at hand in the months ahead.”

In the mapping of the 34 decentralised agencies and five industry forums, there were several factors that this report takes into consideration in the evaluation and prioritisation of the bodies:

·         Height of barriers/complexity of regulation/effect on competitiveness if not involved

·         Relevance to our trading relationship

·         Balance of power between Commission and agency

·         Balance of power between EU and international rules

·         Ability of agency to influence internationally.

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