The United Kingdom is slated to leave the European Union, a consortium of 28 member countries bound by political and economic policies, after a majority of the UK’s voters (52 percent) indicated they wanted out of the collective. Dubbed “Brexit,” the vote has created a cloud of uncertainty for business leaders, including those in the exhibition industry, who have for decades enjoyed a borderless business climate between the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe.
Advocates for the departure from the EU say that doing so will free the country to exercise its own trade agreements around the world rather than being beholden to those adopted by the union. It would also allow the United Kingdom to regulate the flow of immigrants, which has increased significantly in recent years as member countries in Eastern Europe have become increasingly war torn.
Detractors from the vote to exit say withdrawal will dramatically impede the ability to do business, both for companies in the United Kingdom and for those seeking to do business with them. Currently, participating in UK exhibitions requires no special import process for visiting companies, as it is more akin to doing business between states in the United States. But withdrawal from the EU will prompt a rewriting of regulations that could create new barriers for companies planning to exhibit in Great Britain or UK companies wanting to attend exhibitions elsewhere in Europe.
The process for withdrawal is a long one, with the actual separation not expected to take place for two years in accordance with EU doctrines. However, the departure could be undone if UK voters refuse to ratify the vote, or it could be accelerated if EU leadership waives the two-year process in favor of a quicker break.