Opinion Former Article

The engineering profession unites to provide advice to government for EU negotiations

The result of the EU referendum will have a material effect on UK engineering which accounts for some 27% of UK GDP and over half of our exports. It is critical to the future of the UK that the government’s plan is informed by a clear understanding of the potential solutions, opportunities and risks from the perspective of UK engineering.

In this context, it will be important to ensure that the UK maintains its position as a centre of world class engineering research, remains embedded in setting globally recognised codes and standards, has access to the skills that industry needs and retains competitiveness in export markets.

The 38 organisations representing the engineering profession, including the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), believe that it is essential that the engineering profession acts together in the national interest by supporting the government in the forthcoming negotiations to secure the best possible outcome for the UK. At a meeting on 29 June, the organisations agreed that they must cooperate to provide evidence-based advice to government and ensure that the needs of all sectors that have a dependence on engineering are represented and understood. They have asked the Royal Academy of Engineering, with its natural position as a convener of UK engineering, and close links with government, to lead this work.

A project has been established to consult widely across engineering and beyond, gather evidence, analyse the risks and opportunities and produce advice to underpin a strong negotiating position and a positive result for the UK. We are also working closely with our sister national academies to explore how we can best support government in the task ahead.

As the profession prepares its advice to government, we have sent a letter outlining our offer of support to the Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP, whose team at the European Union Unit is leading the transition planning. We have offered our support for the duration of the planning stage as well as to those undertaking the future negotiations.

Nigel Fine, IET Chief Executive, said: “This is a period of huge change and uncertainty so it’s imperative that we work together to ensure the best outcomes for UK engineering, which is so important to a vibrant and successful economy. We will do everything we can to ensure the interests of engineers and UK engineering are represented as strongly as possible.”

Philip Greenish CBE, Chief Executive of the Academy, said: “Never in my lifetime has there been an issue that so emphatically requires strategic collaboration across the engineering profession. We are rising to this challenge and pooling our resources to provide government with the best advice and access to our networks to inform its planning and leadership role. We are building a new, proactive framework for making engineering advice available to government on these critical matters for now and for the duration of the change process.”

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