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Brexit-The UK Transition - December 4th 2020

The UK and the EU agreed future trading terms of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The UK has approved the agreement and it came into effect provisionally on 31 December 2020, whilst awaiting the EU to take steps to approve it.

Brexit: new rules - Government guidance

The Government has updated its guidance on the new rules that apply to travel and doing business with Europe. Clearly there are problems with the administration just now and we will keep you up to date of any issues as they arise.

You can check using their website on what you need to do differently if you are:

  • importing goods from the EU
  • exporting goods to the EU
  • moving goods to or from Northern Ireland
  • providing services to EU countries
  • travelling to the EU
  • living and working in the EU
  • staying in the UK if you are an EU citizen

Selling services to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement ensures that UK firms in a variety of service sectors can continue to access the EU market, including as business travellers and cross-border services suppliers or investors, while being treated no less favourably than either EU businesses or competitors from third countries.

While the Agreement sets out expectations of the treatment and level of access to each Party’s domestic market, there will still be some changes for business as a result of no longer operating under European Economic Area (EEA) regulation covering cross-border trade in services. These changes are different for each sector and differ in each member state of the EU.

For Government guidance for UK businesses on rules for selling services click here.

There are country guides and information for UK businesses providing services and travelling for business to countries in the EEA and Switzerland.

Data sharing

How this affects your business will depend on several factors, including the nature of your business and where your customers are located. Data sharing with the EEA is one of the key areas to consider.

The Government has legislated so that UK firms can continue to lawfully send personal data from the UK to the EEA and 13 other countries that the EU has deemed to provide an adequate level of protection of personal data. They have also announced that the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement provides for the continued free flow of personal data from the EU and EEA to the UK until adequacy decisions are adopted, for no longer than 6 months.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) states that the agreement between the UK and the EU enables businesses and public bodies across all sectors to continue to freely receive data from the EU (and EEA). However, as a sensible precaution, the ICO recommends that businesses work with EU and EEA organisations who transfer personal data to them, to put in place alternative transfer mechanisms to safeguard against any interruption to the free flow of EU to UK personal data.

This means that businesses and organisations can be confident in the free flow of personal data from 1 January, without having to make any changes to their data protection practices.

The new rules will take some time to “bed in” and we will keep you updated on practical actions to take and as new rules or agreements are made between the UK and the EU.  

The Government has a dedicated website covering all Brexit matters. New rules apply to things like travel and doing business with Europe. Use their Brexit checker to get a personalised list of actions for you, your business and your family. 

If your business is affected by Brexit you can sign up for updates

Brexit Trade Agreement

The transition period for the UK leaving the EU has ended. The EU and UK have struck a trade deal, and this has been ratified by the UK Parliament so from 1 January we are trading with the EU quota and tariff “free”. There are new Customs regulations and VAT requirements to get to grips with, but we have every confidence once we get used to the new systems, imports and exports will continue to flow.

The full agreement is entitled “trade and cooperation agreement between the European Union and the European atomic energy community, of the one part, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of the other part” and can be seen here.

The key points of the agreement are outlined below:

  • Travel - UK nationals will need a visa for stays longer than 90 days in a 180-day period and there will be new procedures for UK travellers at EU borders. European Health Insurance Cards, (EHIC) cards will remain valid until they expire. Mobile roaming charges may change so if you are using your phone abroad check with your plan provider first.

  • Trade - There will be no tariff charges on goods or quota limits on the amount that can be traded from 1 January. However there will be Customs checks at borders and customs declarations will need to be made by exporters from the EU and the UK.

  • Services - UK financial businesses lose their access to EU customers (many larger firms have already established subsidiaries within the EU to continue access) and whilst the UK has granted EU businesses temporary permission to continue servicing UK customers, there is no reciprocal EU agreement for UK businesses as yet.
    We expect regulatory discussions about “equivalence” in 2021 and hopefully, an arrangement whereby UK firms will get access to EU customers.

There are other agreements on fishing, security, the Justice system and study which have been widely commented on in the last few days and it is now a question of moving forward with the agreement and dealing with the new lockdown rules and planning for recovery.

If you are concerned about the uncertainty, ask us about our “what if” scenario planner which takes your projected 2021 figures and allows you to work out the effect on profit of reducing expenses, increasing sales, increasing or decreasing prices.

Please talk to us about helping you with forecasting and planning for 2021. We have helped many clients with “what if” scenarios and their future planning.

Trade within the UK

The UK government has laid out plans to deliver on its manifesto commitment to ensure businesses across the whole of the United Kingdom will continue to enjoy seamless internal trade.

From 1 January 2021, powers in at least 70 policy areas previously exercised at an EU level will flow directly to the devolved administrations in Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Belfast for the first time. This will give the devolved administrations power over more issues than they have ever had before, without removing any of their current powers.

Powers are set to return across a raft of areas, including regulations for energy efficiency of buildings, air quality and animal welfare. To ensure businesses can continue to trade seamlessly across the UK as they do now, new legislation will be brought forward to preserve access to all parts of the UK for goods and services.

Holyrood, Cardiff and Stormont will receive new powers in at least 70 policy areas including parts of employment law, land use and air quality, among many others.

Under plans now open for consultation, the Government has stated it will strengthen and maintain the coherence of the UK’s internal market, guaranteeing the continued ability of all UK companies to trade unhindered in every part of the United Kingdom.

Learn more on the government's transition website or contact us if you wish to discuss.

If you trade with the EU, here is a summary of actions you need to take:

If your business relies on EU or other non UK workers then check out the transitional arrangements to 30 June 2021 and the new rules here: https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families

The Agricultural Bill was debated and eventually passed through Parliament last year. This removes the Common Agricultural Policy and replaces it with new UK supports for farmers. The Government agreed that farmers will receive the same level of support as they currently do through the Common Agricultural Policy until 2024, while the current system of subsidies is gradually phased out.

See: https://services.parliament.uk/Bills/2019-21/agriculture.html

The Financial Services Bill was introduced on the 21 October 19 to maintain the UK’s regulatory standards and openness to international markets.

This Bill is the first step in shaping a regulatory framework for the UK’s financial services sector outside of the EU. 

See: here for further information.

In Summary

We must all be prepared for changes in the way we travel and trade with Europe. There will be a UK border which will mean paperwork and border checks.

Businesses that trade with the EU must get familiar with customs declarations as these will be essential for accounting for VAT.

Depending on what contracts a business has with its customers in Europe, it may have to factor in that goods could take longer to get there, meaning extra costs and administration.

In the short term there will probably be delays at the border, so it is important businesses map out supply chains and think about how to do things as efficiently as practicable post transition.

Please talk to us about your plans, we can assist in a number of ways including helping you account for VAT, looking at your accounting systems and pointing you in the direction of specialists to assist with the Trading administration.