SO IT’S DONE! Whatever your view on the matter, Theresa May, our new Prime Minister has repeatedly said Brexit means Brexit! The appointment of brexiteer David Davis as Secretary of State for Exiting the EU would somewhat back that up, but what does it mean for our events industry as a whole?
Immediately, there is some contemplation and perhaps concern from those companies who geographically operate within Europe as well as the UK and at R&B Group we are one of those companies, working over the past couple of years in Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, The Netherlands and Ireland. Will it make it more difficult for UK companies to compete against EU competition when tendering for events? What about logistics? Somewhat ironically for some, will there now be more legislation and more hoops to jump through in order for UK production companies to gain permission to work within or move equipment to EU countries for clients?
If so then I fear UK based companies may lose an amount of competitive edge with added costs that may be involved in delivering this – but on the flip side this perhaps depends on the strength of Sterling against the Euro; could the UK could become a cheap import for EU clients in the EU?
Then there’s a workforce to consider. Perhaps one of the major negotiation points for the newly appointed Mrs May and Mr Davis will involve the right for EU nationals to be allowed to continue to remain working here in the UK, whether that be permanent, part time or casual positions? A significant amount of non-UK citizens will be extremely talented and important pieces of the jigsaw for some events businesses. Small business in particular could be seriously affected by this, whatever the outcome if there is new legislation to be implemented or a drain in talent.
Will our reputation and the UK’s location assist with the transition? The UK event industry is a huge part of business tourism and our reputation as a high quality, creative and hardworking industry may help us. We have the spaces too, but then so does The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Spain. While Heathrow may be a super-hub for traveling into Europe, those places are not hardly difficult to get to internationally.
I guess London still has an appeal in attracting international delegates, but it’s important not to leave the rest of the country behind – regional business tourism organisations are going to have a task on their hands. And here’s a thought – no more European Capitals of Culture in the UK!?
I guess this main thing UK event business can do is prepare for Brexit and the implications it will have. But no one, including the politicians, really knows what Brexit means for the UK economy long term or what these implications will be, so preparing our industry for leaving the EU right now is very difficult. Once negotiations are underway and we learn more regarding legislation, free movement and where the UK and indeed EU economies are going then perhaps we can all stop guessing.
In the meantime, perhaps we can get our teeth into few ‘Brexit’ related events or conferences – heaven knows there’s a lot to talk about!