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Powerful European trade body refuses British chief’s resignation saying UK is too important for him to quit

Terry Scuoler
Terry Scuoler, EEF boss, is the voice of engineering and manufacturing in Europe


An offer to resign as the voice of industry across Europe by the boss of Britain’s engineering trade body in the wake of the Brexit vote has been rebuffed – showing industry’s vital cross-border trade links.

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, sounded out Continental counterparts about quitting his role as chairman of CEEMET, which represents more than 200,000 manufacturing, engineering and technology companies employing 35m people in 23 European nations.

Mr Scuoler was appointed to the European position on a three-year term which is due to finish in 2017.

But in the days following Britain’s June 23 vote to leave the EU, he suggested to CEEMET officials he should step down in light of the referendum’s outcome.

Union flags
Industry says maintaining trade links is essential despite Brexit CREDIT: BLOOMBERG


Mr Scuoler said: “I thought I might find myself in the future in British negotiations, supporting a position at odds with CEEMET and expected I would be standing down.”

However, CEEMET members were unanimous in wanting him to remain in the job, underlining the trade links between UK and Continental companies – despite the majority of Britons voting to leave the EU.

Mr Scuoler added: “I was told my role was critically important and that I needed to be part of discussion over a trade deal and issues such as the fair movement of labour and trade agreement that works for all members.

“They see the job as vital for communicating industry’s voice to both politicians in Brussels and capitals across Europe.”

CEEMET is a powerful lobbying force in Europe – and particularly in heavily industrialised Germany – with the ear of heavyweight political leaders. Its support for a Briton remaining in the role shows how dependent the sector is on cross border trade and skills.

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CEEMET represents 35m staff working in engineering and manufacturing

Engineering businesses and manufacturers in Britain have long complained of shortages of staff with key skills and how they have to seek employees abroad to fill vacancies, as well as trade extensively with European counterparts.

As a result they are desperate to have their voice heard in the complex negotiations over how Britain will leave the EU and the terms of the exit.

British companies will also be keen to manufacture products to European standards to allow them to be sold on the Continent, even though in a post-Brexit world the UK will have an ability to influence regulation. Representation via CEEMET could help them retain a role in shaping legislation.

Uwe Combuchen, director-general of CEEMET, said: “This is a welcome endorsement of the close relationship that the UK, and in particular EEF, will continue to have with our partners within the CEEMET network across and beyond the EU.

“EEF has always played a central role in working for the benefit of manufacturers across Europe and, moving forward, it is essential this close co-operation continues.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/08/21/powerful-european-trade-body-refuses-british-chiefs-resignation/

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