Brexit Bulletin, 11 December 2020 ​

Dec 11, 2020

Will Sunday the 13th prove lucky for Brexit negotiators?

With less than 20 days to go to the end of the Brexit transition period, it seems like it will take a lot more than a dinner to break the iron-clad Brexit deadlock. The past week has seen a rolling ticker of new developments with the final verdict being just one – there is still no trade agreement between the EU and the UK. With a new deadline of Sunday 13 December on the horizon, the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has stated that “conditions have to be fair” for both parties to reach an agreement. Despite this the EU have gone ahead and published their no-deal Brexit contingency plans that are set to kick in on 1 January 2021 if there is no agreement. Details of the EU and UK’s new “trusted trader scheme” aimed at easing the movement of goods from Northern Ireland starting 1 January 2021 were also published this week, as well as the UK government’s new dedicated NI trade preparedness hub.

EU publish targeted no-deal Brexit contingency plans

The European Commission have published targeted contingency measures aimed at coping with the disruption a no-deal Brexit may bring to EU member states. If implemented, the measures published would ensure basic reciprocal air and road connectivity between the EU and the UK - and allow for the possibility of reciprocal fishing access.

“Negotiations are still ongoing. However, given that the end of the transition is very near, there is no guarantee that if and when an agreement is found, it can enter into force on time,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement. The measures also highlight fiscal measures that will be adopted such as the EU’s Brexit Adjustment Reserve, and programmes and instruments in the EU Budget 2021-2027, such as specific support for small businesses in Member States most impacted.

The Commission have also specified open channels for communication, where they will be publishing on its website an overview of national Brexit contact points set up by Member States. You can also contact the Europe Direct Contact Centre for any questions (Freephone 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 from anywhere in the EU or by email in any EU language) where responding to questions regarding Brexit will be prioritised by the Centre.


EU-UK agree on “trusted trader scheme” for Northern Ireland

The EU and the UK have agreed upon a “Trusted Trader Scheme” that will operate on the Northern Ireland border with Great Britain to ease the movement of goods after 1 January 2021. The scheme is aimed at removing the risk of EU customs tariffs on all goods transported from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, whether a deal is agreed upon on not.

In a statement to the House of Commons, UK Cabinet Minister Michael Gove outlined details of this scheme contained in the agreement reached at this week’s meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee, which oversees the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement. The agreement specifies how checks and tariffs will be applied when the UK leaves the EU Single Market at the end of the Brexit transition period, while Northern Ireland continues to abide by EU law.

The technical details are set to cover tariff exemptions for 98 percent of goods flowing between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, while businesses would potentially be able to claim tariffs back on the remaining 2 percent of goods. Officials say these tariffs would only hit big companies and will be eventually reimbursed by the UK government. The agreement will also leave agri-food products moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, exempt from export health certificates for at least three months, which has been a worrisome issue for supermarket chains operating in Northern Ireland.

Chilled meats — including sausages, burgers, and unfrozen prepared meals — will, for six months be able to enter Northern Ireland from Great Britain without being examined individually. Keep an eye out in next week’s Brexit Digest for an update on the specifics of the agreement.


UK government publish new dedicated Norther Ireland trade hub

The UK government have published a dedicated hub on preparation guidelines for trade and movement of goods in and out of Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021.

If you trade or move goods from Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) to Northern Ireland, there will be changes to some processes. While there will be no changes in how qualifying Northern Ireland goods move directly from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, there will be some changes for qualifying goods moved indirectly through Ireland. Goods will be qualifying Northern Ireland goods if they are not under any customs procedures before they are moved from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK.

The published guidance covers areas such as:

  1. Making declarations
  2. Transporting and carrying goods if you’re a haulier or a carrier
  3. Moving goods under transit
  4. Moving excise goods
  5. Moving cash
  6. Paying VAT
  7. Special procedures, duty reliefs, authorisations and guarantees
  8. Storing or handling goods

For further reference, visit the GOV.UK hub.


Brexit Bites

  • UK Government provides £400m package for Northern Ireland in post-Brexit transition deal
  • UK Accounting and Audit Framework: Transition Period Business Readiness webinar