EuPC & BPF Warn Over Damaging Hard Brexit for Plastic Converters

Plastics Industry Trade Bodies Issue Joint Statement on Impact of Brexit

EuPC and the British Plastics Federation have published a joint position paper regarding Brexit.

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The European Plastics Converters Association (EuPC), and the British Plastics Federation (BPF), which represents the entire plastics value chain, have published a joint position paper regarding Brexit.

The organisations noted that a year and a half after the Brexit referendum, and following months of negotiations, Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker recently announced that “sufficient progress” has been made to allow the beginning of the next phase: the talks about the future relationship between the EU and the UK.

In the light of these developments, EuPC and the BPF drafted a joint position paper, The Brexit and the European Plastics Converting Industry, emphasising the need to develop a deep and comprehensive agreement that eliminates customs and minimises possible non-tariff barriers.

“In the interest of the European plastics converting industry, we ask the European Commission and the British Government to avoid any disturbances of the current trade with plastics and plastic products between the UK and the EU, especially in the second phase of the negotiations on possible sector trade issues,” said Alexandre Dangis, EuPC Managing Director & Philip Law, BPF director-general.

The document explained that plastics is an international business and the UK is the most important trade partner of the EU27 for manufactured plastic articles. In 2016, the EU27 exported goods with a trade value above €6.6 Billion to the UK.

The same applies the other way around, in 2016, the intra EU exports of the UK amounted to over €4.5 Billion, which is 68% of the UK’s total plastic products exports.

Additionally, there is considerable ownership of UK plastics businesses by EU companies from other Member States and vice versa.

Furthermore, restrictions to the free movement of labour could worsen the already existing shortage of qualified personnel that the European plastics converting industry is facing, and legal differences in the highly regulated plastics industry could become major barriers to international trade and investments.

The EUs flagship programme to create a circular economy can only be addressed in conjunction with the UK as a partner with the EU.

According tot he paper, the major risks of a hard Brexit include the imposition of customs duties and other non-tariff barriers such as regulatory barriers or custom checks.

Any of those barriers would have negative impacts on the highly integrated plastics converting industry. Therefore a temporary or permanent agreement should include the confirmation of duty-free trade between the EU27 and the UK.

It should also include the mutual recognition of regulatory procedures and standards, especially REACH regulation and customs procedures that are as efficient, simple and fast as possible.

Key Messages

  • An uncontrolled or hard Brexit is in every point of view the worst case scenario for the European plastics converting industry on both sides of the English Channel
  • Legal uncertainties are a major barrier to international trade and investments, they should be avoided through an ideally early arrangement on the future legal relationship between the UK and the EU
  • No important trading partner trades with the EU solely on the basis of WTO agreements. A Brexit without any agreement would provoke massive disruptions and should be avoided
  • The major risks of a hard Brexit include the imposition of customs duties and other non-tariff barriers such as regulatory barriers or custom checks. Any of those barriers would have negative impacts on the highly integrated plastics converting industry. Therefore a temporary or permanent agreement should include: The confirmation of duty-free trade between the EU27 and the UK; Mutual recognition of regulatory procedures and standards, especially REACH regulation; And customs procedures that are as efficient, simple and fast as possible
  • The European plastics converting industry is already facing a shortage of qualified personal, a restriction of the free movement of labour would further worsen this situation.

The statement concluded that: “A Brexit without at least a temporary agreement would have the potential to cause heavily disruptive consequences for the highly international and integrated European plastics converting industry. EuPC and the BPF call on the European Commission and the British government to find a deep and comprehensive agreement that eliminates customs and minimises possible non-tariff barrier.”

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