“Fish and chips”- Brexit negotiators have their plates full as deadline looms

Dec 01, 2020

With less than 30 days to go to the final Brexit deadline, EU and UK negotiators are hurriedly trying to agree a deal. The very real deadline of 31 December 2020 is looming, and it seems that the timetable for Brexit negotiations has been replaced with daily “bit-by-bit” negotiations. However, the EU is still holding out hope to reach an agreement. "We're fully concentrated on the Brexit negotiations right now," said spokesperson for the European Commission, Daniel Ferrie.

Meanwhile, with current Brexit trade talks still stuck on fishing, governance, and a level playing field, patience seems to be running short on both sides. UK Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove has been reported as saying this week that the EU is asking too much.

A fishy affair…

Even with the EU offering to return to the UK 15-18 percent (worth €117m) of the value of fish stocks currently caught by EU fleets in UK waters, the issue on fisheries is far from being resolved. Last-minute Brexit trade talks are continuing in London with fishing rights remaining an "outstanding major bone of contention," according to the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. While a definitive answer is yet to emerge, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has warned that if the UK could not compromise on fishery access the entire deal could potentially fall through.

Potato supply chains will be impacted

With disruption to the Irish potato supply chain and other impediments to the agri-food sector dominating the latest headlines, the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has warned businesses that all British potatoes, including seed plants, will be banned from importation into Ireland once transition arrangements end on 1 January 2021.

Even in the event of a trade deal, the Department has told growers, processors and distributors that the flow of British potatoes to Ireland will stop on 1 January 2021, and not be restored for months, because Britain’s application to export potatoes must go through EU checks.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has also expressed concern that a significant number of agri-food, forestry and fisheries firms that have traded with the UK over the past two years are still not ready for both the transition period deadline and the new customs arrangements coming into effect on 1 January 2021. Mr McConalogue said that these companies had not yet taken the initial step in being prepared for Brexit by registering for an Economic Operators’ Registration and Identification (EORI) number. Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar is urging businesses to use available Government supports to mitigate the disruption Brexit will bring to the trading landscape, in addition to the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Northern Ireland, the NI Office has released guidance for businesses (including the professional services sector) in Northern Ireland to help them prepare for Brexit.

Trading conditions between the UK and EU will change from 1 January 2021. To support this call for readiness, the Institute have outlined the top 10 things to do to prepare right now, whether you trade in goods, and/or services.

10 things to do: Goods

10 things to do: Services