After years of debate, Britain is finally having a referendum on leaving the European Union. There is a sense of uncertainty and confusion that has overtaken the Brexit debate, with a major question mark on what will be best for Britain and, in turn, how it will affect businesses. As a brand experience agency with multiple European ties through clients and employees, we are watching and assessing the debate intensely. The topics at the forefront of our mind are:
As we employ non-British EU nationals, what will the Brexit mean? There are suggestions that border controls may remain open in exchange for access to the open market, but on the other hand it could lead to tighter border controls with EU nationals having to present proof of employment and submit to a visa system. Will a visa system have to be implemented for existing EU nationals within our business and what are the time frames? Will it also limit the flow of talented individuals entering the UK? As a small business, HR already has an impact in terms of time and finance – therefore any changes to laws and recruitment may create an added pressure.
Trading with the EU
As an agency that thrives on active and ongoing work from clients based in the EU – we are already exploring whether there would be an impact for either party when servicing projects for our clients. On both sides of the campaign, when referring to businesses working within the EU, they only mention trade and usually in relation to import/export, but what about other service industries? There are reassurances that even if the UK leaves the EU, trade agreements would be put in place to ensure trade could continue, yet no-one can actually say what this looks like. Another consideration would be the departure of UK based businesses that we trade with; if they no longer have offices here, would they limit the need for a UK-based agency?
In general our power as an economy and country is at the heart of many of the debates. The ‘IN’ campaign states that we are better off as part of a unified voice benefiting from stronger trade partnerships and the ability to impact laws and agreements more successfully from within. They have also hinted that other EU countries could potentially ‘punish’ the UK for leaving by limiting trade e.g. Germany and France import more from the UK than they export to the UK.
However the ‘OUT’ campaign states our voice is being lost and we are being dictated to by more powerful EU countries. They have also referred to the potential of the UK becoming a Singapore-style super economy – increasing our trading power on a global platform. This positive outlook is a tempting argument – could the UK become the trailblazer for further changes to be made to the EU?
Don’t fear the future, prepare for it
No-one can say with certainty what the right outcome will be for the UK, but we know that in order to make an informed decision we need further open discussions and access to more detailed information from both sides.
Regardless of what may happen after the 23 June referendum, it is better to prepare for the future and listen to the arguments now – reviewing the possible outcomes rather than face the inevitable panic and uncertainty that a Brexit would likely bring about. It feels as if the decision will come down to sticking with what we know or making a brave leap into the unknown.