Brexit Strategies for British & European Civil Society Organisations Workshop
Campaigners, policy specialists and academics attended a workshop organised by the University of Exeter Business School in collaboration with CORE Coalition and the European Coalition for Corporate Justice, to discuss the potential implications of Brexit for the non-profit sector.
With the work of hundreds of UK and European based civil society organisations (CSOs) being affected by Brexit, the workshop provided strategic support and insights to those facing policy and organisational challenges following the triggering of Article 50.
The discussion revolved around lobbying strategies, post-Brexit relations with European partner organisations, funding and legal implications.
Many civil society organisations operate within very confined limits due to lack of funding and an emerging concern was the increased likelihood of financial instability as European funding may no longer be available to UK NGOs.
Scope for collaboration and influence?
When considering the role of civil society in a post-Brexit UK, some participants articulated the need to rethink their approach to issues with a view to enhancing collaboration with trade or migration-related organisations, to mitigate against threats and increase multi-level impact.
At the political level, it was noted that the UK will lose considerable influence over policies, most notably on EU trade, and that this could affect the economic and social welfare of British citizens.
Unchecked ministerial power
Of great concern to all participants was the prospect of unchecked ministerial power to be granted under the Great Repeal Bill. This Bill will annul the 1972 European Communities Act and transpose EU legislation into domestic law, granting unprecedented powers to Ministers to amend legislation without parliamentary scrutiny.
The extent to which UK would be free to depart from EU regulatory standards on labour, environment, consumer or business-related issues is unclear, as are the terms of future trade deals.
This uncertainty represented obvious threats to attendees, but it also highlighted an opportunity for UK civil society to engage with the Government and parliament to promote enhanced human rights standards in future trade deals.