The British vote yesterday will leave none of us untouched. In addition to the immediate negative impacts in politics, the stock market, etc. we’ll likely face a protracted period of uncertainty as the Europeans and British begin to wrestle with the process of division.
We will welcome your thoughts and suggestions regarding our comments and our actions over the coming months.
For today, we would stress the need for calm. What was decided last night was that Britain should leave a union many British citizens had never completely accepted. While we would have greatly preferred seeing Britain remain a willing member of the EU, they are not alone in this sentiment – the Norwegians have voted twice to stay out of the Union. The Union itself was always evolving – as recently as 2009 the legal framework was modified by the Treaty of Lisbon.
So, negotiations between Britain and the EU will be difficult, but we should not assume this has to be catastrophic; in the early 1990s Czechoslovakia divided into two states without violence or economic upheaval.
The Canadian Chamber urges the government to take a pragmatic approach. We should reaffirm our commitment to the proposed Canada Europe Trade Agreement (CETA), despite Britain’s decision. Although it would be a smaller victory, a successful ratification would be a major benefit for Canada and perhaps the single greatest gesture we can make to free trade and the European community.
We will also need to look at separate arrangements with Britain, which remains our ally and a major trading partner.
For now, we need to recognize that there will be a major impact on geopolitics and on the global economy. The issues that will arise will need to be managed calmly and creatively with a focused approach that will encourage stability and build public and investor confidence.