Organisations representing 20 million employers and 45 million workers across Europe have called for faster progress on Brexit.
In what is described as an unprecedented joint statement, the CBI, BusinessEurope, the TUC and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) called on the UK Government and the EU to inject pace and urgency into the negotiations.
Leaders of the four organisations called for agreement on key issues, including regulatory alignment, frictionless trade and Northern Ireland.
Issued to coincide with the June European Council meeting, the statement confirms that employers and unions have already developed a consensus on issues such as the need to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, and the rights of UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK.
“We are calling on the UK and EU to consult us in a meaningful and more structured manner on a joint basis so that we can contribute to identifying and designing practical solutions that will work,” the statement reads.
The cost of disagreement between the UK and the EU would be dire for firms, workers and the communities where they live, it adds, with the signatories appealing to negotiators on both sides “to put jobs and prosperity before politics when seeking solutions that will matter for generations to come”.
Noting that decisions will be needed at the June and October Council meetings to finalise the withdrawal agreement and the transitional arrangement, the statement points out that both sides will need to agree on all aspects of regulatory alignment without jeopardising the integrity of the single market.
Among other things, that must involve preserving value chains and avoiding non-tariff barriers to trade, establishing barrier-free and frictionless trade in goods and services, and reaching agreement on workers’ rights, the statement concludes.