Pan-European supplier association, CLEPA, says it has whittled down candidates for a new CEO to a short list as it looks to make an appointment by the end of this year.

The hunt for a new head of the powerful organisation, whose members employ around 5m people in Europe, was triggered by the decision of former CEO, Paul Schockmel to step down and comes at a crucial time for the body.

Britain’s unexpected decision to quit the Brussels club and plough its own political furrow has caused considerable uncertainty across the continent and the new CEO will have to deal deftly with London’s exit – as well as stalk the corridors of power in Belgium.

“Brussels is extremely political – you need someone who is in with government affairs” – acting CLEPA CEO, Amalia di Stefano told just-auto at this week’s Paris show.

“We hope the UK [will play a role in the future], to maintain the benefit of the internal market with trade relations and the possibility for talent [employees] to move from one [side] of the English Channel [to the other].

“All our members hope the UK has access to the single market. In Brussels nothing has started – Article 50 needs to be triggered and they are not going to do that for months to come.

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“Everyone talks about scenarios but in practice, nothing has been done.”

Di Stefano remains an extremely safe pair of hands to guide the supplier association through its interim period – she has been with the organisation for 16 years and knows the intricate nature of dealing with Brussels intimately.

The body has been at the forefront of pushing for extremely tough CO2 emissions targets, with the ambitious aim of slashing these to 95g in the near future, a figure which presents enormous opportunities and challenges for the group’s members.