As the UK government and the EU struggle to find common ground on which to establish some kind of trade agreement, UK respondents were hopeful of a free-trade deal. However, they are less likely than their European counterparts to feel prepared for a no-deal scenario. This was one of the key findings of the Autovista Group Brexit survey.
The COVID-19 pandemic distracted the automotive industry from trade-deal negotiations but as a no-deal scenario looks more likely than ever, concerns over the impact of Brexit once again loom large. Autovista Group surveyed a range of automotive industry firms to explore the latest predictions for the likely outcome of EU-UK talks and what they mean for our sector in 2021. The online survey was conducted throughout November 2020 as the two parties upped the pace of negotiations. A selection of individuals was invited to take part, with respondents across 12 European countries participating, in addition to those from the UK.
When asked how ready they are for a no-deal Brexit, only 13% of UK respondents said they felt completely prepared while three-quarters of European respondents claim to be prepared. This could partly be a consequence of poor communication, which has been a contentious issue throughout the whole Brexit period. This has been a perception both in the UK and in the EU. One respondent commented: ‘[We want] some better direction on what [Brexit] means and what needs to be done around import and export, our main concern being delays in parts supply for vehicles.’
Lack of clarity
In the UK, respondents called for clarity on the specifics of changes to imports, exports and travel, as well as for more time to adjust to any changes and clarification on what Brexit will mean for the automotive industry in particular.
Clearly, an unforeseen issue that has had an impact this year is COVID-19. This has hindered talks and among European respondents, the concern most commonly expressed was that Brexit seemed to have been forgotten in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A telling finding of the survey was that when asked what information their government had provided that had been helpful, no respondent was able to give an example.
The full survey: Brexit predictions – an analysis of responses to a Europe-wide survey of automotive industry firms on their predictions for the impact of Brexit is available here.