MCA and FEACO issue three key demands for EU talks

17 February 2020 4 min. read
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As crunch talks take place between the UK and European Union on post-Brexit trade relations, the leaders of the representative bodies of Britain and Europe’s consulting industries have issued a joint statement calling for three key demands to be met. According to Tamzen Isacsson and Eric Falque, the ability to recruit, travel and source data across the continent are crucial for the future success of consulting in the UK and EU.   

The UK may have officially ceased to be a member of the European at the end of January, but the frustratingly sluggish Brexit process seems to be alive and well. The agreement which Boris Johnson managed to move through Parliament allowed for an additional year of negotiations for a number of unresolved matters before the UK completely extracts itself from the EU’s workings.

Trade talks between the UK and the remaining bloc of 27 nations are already off to an acrimonious start in Brussels. Returning to one of the most regular criticisms trotted out by the UK Government since 2017, British negotiators have once again accused the EU of “cherry-picking” issues of importance, and being too tough before negotiations have even begun in earnest.

Tamzen Isacsson and Eric Falque

The continued uncertainty surrounding this process has significantly impaired the UK economy’s ability to grow in recent years – with one of the most notable exceptions being the professional services industry. While other businesses remain unsure on whether to invest in UK operations, whether to downsize British operations, or even relocate to the continent, consultants in particular have been riding high, as this has driven demand for their advisory services.

That is not to say that consultants would not be impacted by Brexit in the long-term, however. Amid an apparent skills-shortage in the UK, many firms would have hoped to source talent from the continent, while also providing services to short-staffed clients on the other side of the Channel – but at present there is still the potential for there to be no agreement for mutual recognition of professional qualifications between Britain and the mainland. This is just one area of Brexit that could hit the industry hard.

In recognition of the make-or-break impact of concluding Brexit talks on the UK and EU’s consulting sectors, Britain and Europe’s representative bodies for the sector have issued a joint statement. Tamzen Isacsson, CEO of the UK’s Management Consultancies Association (MCA), and Eric Falque, Chair of the European Federation of Management Consultancies Association (FEACO) both called on negotiators to deliver an arrangement that would benefit the lucrative industries.

Isacsson and Falque said, “Thanks to decades of growth, investment and training, the UK and other European countries are now home to world class consultancy businesses that are vital to the future success and growth of our private and public sector clients, and our respective economies… To impose barriers, create legal vacuums and restrict freedoms of our people to perform their jobs will serve no country’s interests either in the UK or Europe and will stifle growth across our sector and the businesses and industries we serve.”

According to the pair, the MCA and FEACO welcome the fact that both UK and EU leaders have expressed strong support for an ambitious and comprehensive deal on services in the future relationship between Britain and the mainland. However, they called on negotiators to turn these sentiments into concrete actions by meeting three key requirements. Isacsson and Falque said that the freedom of travel for consultants so they can provide expertise to clients, the free flow of data and freedom to recruit the best talent from abroad are each critical to the success of Britain and Europe’s consulting sector.