European leaders agreed with Britain on Thursday to delay Brexit until October 31st, saving the continent from what could have been a chaotic no-deal departure at the end of the week.
Although the agreement was not exactly what Danish business leaders wanted, there was relief that a no-deal British exit, which could have a far-reaching impact on businesses, is no longer an immediate threat.
“The Confederation of Danish Industries is very pleased that a no-deal Brexit has been averted for now. The decision to extend the Brexit process provides a chance to get an essential exit agreement over the line,” Anders Ladefoged, director of European affairs with the Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri, DI), said in comments provided to The Local.
“Britain is a very big and important market for Danish companies, and we would of course prefer Britain to remain in the EU. However, given the current situation the most desirable outcome for us is for the British Parliament to find a solution to secure an orderly Brexit as soon as possible,” Ladefoged added.
DI is a private interest organisation funded, owned and managed by 10,000 companies within the manufacturing, trade and service industries.
Repeated delays and what is perceived as an interminable focus on Brexit has frustrated the Danish business community, with companies having to adapt their own preparations or wait for new announcements on an ongoing basis.
“Companies need clarity and a timescale so that they can plan or take care of their business. It is also frustrating in the sense that we would like the EU to spend its time on something other than Brexit – there are other challenges we would like to resolve,” Ladefoged told broadcaster DR.
The United Kingdom is Denmark’s fifth-largest export market, and the country therefore stands to lose significant income if trade ties between the countries are abruptly broken.
“A hard [no-deal, ed.] Brexit means that all the EU rules no longer apply. Procedure in regard to how we do business would fall away overnight. That would have enormous consequences.
“Customs papers would have to be issued, as well as production certificates and a lot besides. Waiting times would be increased and products would become more expensive,” Ladefoged said to the broadcaster.
Food and medicine are two of the Danish industries that would stand to lose the most in a no-deal scenario, according to Ladefoged.
“It is still very unclear how a solution to secure Brexit will be found. The uncertainty and on-going political disagreement in the UK do not help Danish companies prepare for future trade relations. Today, export to the UK almost delivers 65.000 Danish jobs, so there is a lot at stake for Denmark,” the DI European affairs director said in comments to The Local.