"Companies have to do audits and analyse Britain's impact", Christopher Dottie, President of the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain
26 de February de 2019
26 de February de 2019
Organized by the APD (Association or Management Progress) and EAE Business School, this event was held within the framework of the Spanish Executives Around the World series, and was introduced by Casimiro García, the President of Axis Corporate, one of the APD's key partner companies, and Josep Maria Altarriba, the Dean of EAE. The guest participants at the event agreed that the United Kingdom's departure from the EU is not a positive thing. "Lots of transactions will be lost and it is essential that the country withdraws in an appropriate, orderly way, upholding all the agreements adopted between the member countries", explained Ferran Tarradellas, Director of the European Commission's delegation in Barcelona. In this respect, he emphasized that one of the challenges that the Commission faces is to safeguard the rights of EU citizens living in the United Kingdom and British citizens living abroad.
The panel also discussed the timescales established, with a transition period that would end on 31st December 2020, to give companies the chance to adapt to the new reality, "which may be extended by up to two years so that that withdrawal of the United Kingdom is conducted with in a way that causes the least damage for everybody". He also reaffirmed that, at the European Commission, everything possible has been done to convince the country not to leave the EU and that they are now fighting to achieve the best scenario for all concerned.
Chistopher Dottie, the President of the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain, acknowledged that Spain has close links with the United Kingdom. "There are at least 500,000 Britons living in Spain and more than 200,000 Spaniards living in the United Kingdom. Moreover, millions of British citizens come to Spain each years as tourists". Christopher Dottie gave companies some advice on how to proceed looking towards the future, recommending that these carry out an audit and analyse Britain's impact, examining each contract carefully, build up stocks, etc. "It has become apparent that many of our members are primarily concerned about dual nationality, whether it is possible and, if so, how to get it". With respect to companies, in his opinion, "they are not prepared for Brexit".
Meanwhile, Ignacio Buil, the Partner and Director of the London office of Cuatrecasas, emphasized that Brexit with a sufficient level of certainty may be an opportunity for Spain, "but the current situation is really weakening Europe". Living in London, Buil has first-hand insight into the reality in Britain, explaining that in the City, Brexit is already a done deal. "From now onwards, we will see the increasing automation of the European financial system. In London, they don't see Spain as a destination offering opportunities for them". He therefore regretted that Spain has been unable to take advantage of the opportunities that Brexit offers or improving its financial standing in Europe as other cities such as Paris or Berlin have managed to do. He also gave an overview of various scenarios: Brexit going ahead (which he know takes for granted), a no-deal Brexit, a unilateral withdrawal and the aforementioned two-year extension. With respect to a second referendum, Ignacio Buil considers it unlikely.
The participants in the colloquium also discussed the taxation problems for companies that work with the United Kingdom when the country leaves the EU. According to Ferran Tarradellas, with a Brexit deal, taxation does not pose a problem but, in a no-deal scenario, nobody knows what might happen. "Perhaps the United Kingdom would be just another country, like Canada". He added that "the European Commission has drawn up a set of texts and legal measures for the event of a hard Brexit, as well as contingency plans that also include social issues".