News

Sustainability

 PwC has pledged to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030. The commitment includes supporting its clients to reduce their emissions, as well as reducing those from the PwC network’s operations and suppliers.PwC plans todecarbonise its operations, including its travel footprintinvest in carbon removal projects to neutralise its remaining climate impact engage its suppliers to tackle their climate impactwork with its clients to support their efforts to make a net-zero future a reality for allcontribute to public policy developments in support of net-zero at national, regional and global levels.Bob Moritz, Global Chairman of the PwC network, said: “Businesses and economies must evolve quickly to address the significant challenges facing our societies and our planet. Whether you look at this through the lens of human need or from a capital allocation perspective, it is in the interests of everyone that we see systemic change that averts climate catastrophe and unlocks the potential of green growth.”“A net zero world is within reach. Getting there will take innovation, hard work, collaboration and bold thinking but the benefits will be immense. The business community has a responsibility to act and we are determined to play our part, not just in our own operations and supply chain, but also in the way we advise and support our clients to create a sustainable world for future generations.” Read more here. 

Sep 18, 2020

In a world that is getting more complex, how can leaders navigate the constant changes? Managing our responses and developing our thinking and learning is integral to overcoming these challenges, says Patrick Gallen.We live in a time when change and disruption are constant and being able to navigate change is an indispensable leadership trait.There is a fundamental difference between seeing the challenges posed by change as one of navigating the complicated versus navigating the complex.Complicated challenges may be demanding but, with enough information, we can leverage experience and expertise, observe patterns of cause and effect, apply rules and processes and then solve them. This approach is probably no different from the many challenges you face as an accountant in business or practice. As one of my old bosses used to say, we often over-complicate business problems and then must simplify things to solve them.Complexity, on the other hand, should be navigated differently, because complex systems and environments are made up of a mosaic of diverse yet interdependent elements that interact in unexpected ways. When we look at mechanics and engineering, we find highly complicated systems, like a jet engine.  When we look at nature, we can see highly complex systems, like a coral reef or a natural woodland.Some of our work may be complicated, but we do that work in a complex environment.Complex systems do not always follow patterns, and so past behaviour of a complex system may not predict its future behaviour. In a complex system, there is no centre or top from which to direct.  Empowered and self-directed teams ideally can resolve challenges in different parts of a complex system, almost akin to what the various university and pharma teams are doing around the world in the search for a vaccine for COVID-19. When you look at the biggest change challenges you are facing in business or practice, do they resemble the complicated or the complex?  We know that we cannot exercise complete control in a complex world – the environment is always changing, and we cannot lead people back to the way things were before. We can, however, manage our own response, develop our own thinking, and learn. Under stress, it can be tempting to fall back on our experience and expertise – to get consumed with the details and to narrow our focus.  Leading in a complex system requires us to take a wider view of our firms, our roles, our service lines and our teams, and to see them as part of a much bigger system.  This then has implications for the way we lead as a profession and as accountants, in whatever field we operate.Patrick Gallen is a Partner in People and Change Consulting in Grant Thornton.

Sep 18, 2020

2020 has been difficult for everyone. Business and personal plans have gone awry and we're constantly readjusting to accommodate everything. Moira Dunne offers some tips to reset and refocus for the end of the year.September is a great time to reset and refocus after the summer months. With schools reopening, it is a chance to draw breath and set priorities for the last four months of the year. This year, we need to reset more than ever. 2020 has been a time of huge change and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Business plans created in January were suddenly paused in March. Day-to-day operations stopped for many businesses. And, as companies pivoted to survive, plans from January may be irrelevant in Q4. Here are some tips to reset and refocus for the end of the year.Even though we are still living with COVID-19, this September brings hope as we see the reopening of schools around the world. The virus is still here, but we are all getting on with our lives and our business. How great would it feel to achieve some important goals and finish your year on a high?1. Reset your prioritiesStart by looking at the goals you set in January and assess what has been completed and what needs to be added. Identify the most important things you want to achieve by the end of 2020. Then ask the following questions:What are the goals?What work needs to be done to achieve those goals?Is help or input required from anyone else?2. Make a planHaving a plan helps you achieve more as it provides structure, focus and motivation. To figure out the work to be done, it helps to break large goals into smaller sub-goals. Then brainstorm each sub-goal to identify the tasks or actions required.Using a flipchart or whiteboard really helps the brainstorming process as space frees up your mind. If you work with others, you can arrange an online session over Zoom or Teams and use the whiteboarding feature to help spark ideas.Once you have a list of tasks, start looking at the following:What needs to be done when?Do some tasks depend on the completion of others?What are the milestones to be achieved along the way?Then transfer all the tasks into a planner. 3. Be realisticYou are probably already busy, so be realistic about how much time you have. It is better to under-plan than over-plan. Start small, complete some tasks to achieve a sub-goal. This will motivate you to keep going.Build in some contingency time, some “slippage” for the unexpected. Because if 2020 has taught us anything, we know that we need to expect the unexpected!4. Track your progressAs you work through your tasks, track your progress by capturing the date each one is completed. If you miss a target date, readjust any remaining dates that may be affected.Rework the plan if you find you are not getting enough time to work on your goals. Extend your timeline if necessary.5. CelebrateIf you achieve your goal, then you will want to celebrate. If you reach the end of Q4 without completing all the work, you still have a plan and you know exactly what needs to be done in 2021.And by following this process, you have also gained some valuable project management skills. What an achievement in these uncertain times!Moira Dunne is Founder of beproductive.ie.

Sep 18, 2020

What is the best way to handle post-COVID recovery? Leaders should see the recovery process as a spectrum of options, argues Valerie Daunt, and adapt accordingly.As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 2.7 billion people, or more than four out of five workers in the global workforce, have been affected by lockdowns and stay-at-home measures. Business and government leaders have been challenged to both respond to the crisis quickly and rethink their workforce strategies in real-time.It is important to realise that recovery won’t be static. It will not occur on a specific date. COVID-19 is unlikely to end suddenly given the lack of available therapeutics and the uncertain prospects and timing of a vaccine.Most organisations’ priority has been crisis response and emphasising health, safety, essential services, and the virtualisation of work and education. Now, as organisations begin to emerge from this response phase, leaders are focusing on the next set of challenges as they plan for recovery. There are three phases that leaders will likely face:Respond: How an organisation deals with the present situation and manages continuity Recover: How an organisation learns and emerges stronger Thrive: How an organisation prepares for and shapes the “new normal”Many organisations are planning for multiple scenarios and time horizons as they shift from crisis response to recovery. Many are also planning for the possibility of multiple waves of the pandemic and its continuing global and uneven footprint. As a result, we expect it will be a gradual transition from the respond phase to a new reality. Organisations must prepare for different outcomes of the pandemic – mild, harsh, or severe – and recognise that the recovery should be adaptable to different situations within different countries and industries worldwide.To do this, it helps to think of this recovery process as a spectrum of options. Some organisations are hiring or expanding and others contracting. Some may bring more employees back to the workplace, while others are still working remotely, perhaps permanently. Other organisations, especially those that expanded during the crisis, may reduce their workforce or adapt to new environments. Leaders should ask how they will integrate additional workers in the future, what services might be added or changed as a result, and what other operations may be maintained in a remote capacity. The answers to these types of questions will help organisations redefine their workforces and set the direction to thrive in the aftermath of the pandemic. It is not essential that leaders have a detailed blueprint of the new working landscape at this stage, but they should start to actively envision it and work toward it. In sharing our insights on how to approach workforce recovery strategies, business leaders should begin with a sense of priorities and direction for their future. The future of any organisation’s DNA, and critical guideposts for workforce recovery, should include its direction on organisational:Purpose: integrating the well-being and contributions of individuals in the organisation’s mission and work; Potential: for what can be achieved by individuals and teams; and Perspective: with a focus on moving boldly into the future.It’s not simply a return to old ways of doing business. The pandemic has created an imperative and an opportunity for organisations to reengage with the workforce and reinvent their workplaces. The biggest challenge organisations will likely face in recovery is the tension between preparing for a return to previous activities and routines – getting back to work – while also embracing a new reality – rethinking work. While many workforces have demonstrated resiliency in the face of crisis, it is important to remember that transformative change can be difficult and unsettling for many workers. While some may prefer working from home, others may be uncomfortable or unproductive outside of traditional work settings. How leaders accommodate and balance these divergent expectations will help define the future of trust in their organisation. Despite the uncertainty, one thing remains clear: customers, workers, suppliers, and other partners are watching. How organisations handle the recovery may define their brands with both their workforce and their customers, establish their reputations for years to come, determine their future competitiveness, and ultimately define whether they are truly operating as a social enterprise.Valarie Daunt is a Partner in Consulting in Deloitte.

Sep 18, 2020
Public Policy

In this week’s Public Policy news, read how European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented her vision to make Europe green, digital and more resilient; what official figures reveal about the labour market in the UK; and how Ireland has extended its redundancy provisions to help reduce insolvencies, bankruptcies and further job losses.A green, digital and more resilient Europe This week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gave her State of the European Union address where she set out her vision to make Europe become green, digital and more resilient. Key points covered were:Protecting Health: Building a stronger European health union in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak with measures such as:an EU4Health programme; a reinforced European Medicines Agency (EMA);a strengthened European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC); anda new European agency for biomedical advanced research and development (BARDA).Protecting livelihoods: protecting workers by introducing a legal framework for setting minimum wages and protecting businesses from external shocks; and boosting the single market by reinforcing the Economic and Social Union, getting the Schengen area working in full again and updating the EU’s industry strategy and competition framework.Reinforcing the Green Deal:increasing the emissions-reduction target from 40 percent to 55 percent by 2030 to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and meet Paris Agreement obligationsrevising all of the EU’s climate and energy legislation by summer 2021;raising 30 percent of the €750 billion #NextGenerationEU budget through green bonds; and investing 37 percent of that funding in European Green Deal objectives.Leading a Digital Transformation : 20 percent of NextGenerationEU’s budget will be invested in moves to create a common plan for ‘digital Europe’ with connectivity, skills and digital public services.Deeping Global Relations: revitalising and reforming the multilateral system, including the World Trade Organisation and World Health Organisation; building agreements and relationships with the US, the UK and Africa; and building global agreements on ethical, human rights and environmental issues, and on digital taxation.Deliver a new Pact on Migration, with an approach based on humanity and solidarity.A first annual Rule of Law report covering all Member States.A European anti-racism action plan, with the appointment of an anti-racism coordinator, as well as strengthened racial equality laws.More on the vision for Europe can be read here. Labour market statistics reveal unemployment rates for the UK Employment data published this week shows that the overall rate of unemployment in the UK grew from 3.9 percent to 4.1 percent from May to July of 2020. The majority of job losses were among those aged between 16 and 24. According to official figures, almost half of those furloughed since May returned to work by mid-August rather than into unemployment or inactivity; however, it is expected that employment will fall more sharply and unemployment will increase more quickly as the furlough scheme nears its end in November. In Northern Ireland, labour market statistics published by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency on the same day revealed that proposed and confirmed redundancies more than doubled since August 2019, with record high numbers recorded in June and July. However, the Northern Ireland unemployment rate (2.9 percent) for the period May-July 2020 remains below the UK rate (4.1 percent), the European Union (27 Member States) rate (6.7 percent) for May 2020 and the Republic of Ireland rate (5.3 percent) for June 2020. Extension of Ireland’s redundancy provision On 15 September the Government approved an extension of the redundancy provisions relating to temporary lay-off and short-time work. Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys TD announced that the measure, which suspends redundancy provisions – and which arose as a result of COVID-19 – will remain in place until 30 November. Describing the measures as necessary to “ensure businesses survive and that permanent job losses are avoided as much as possible”, Minister Humphreys reminded employees who remain on lay-off or short-time work for the requisite period that they will be entitled to exercise their right to claim redundancy from their employer when this emergency measure expires, and that all other redundancy provisions such as notice periods and payments of redundancy lump sums still apply, as does the existing employment rights legislation.Read all our updates on our Public Policy web centre.

Sep 18, 2020
Tax

In our top Irish stories this week, Revenue initiates an intensified programme of engagement on Brexit readiness and reduced operating hours for Revenue telephone helplines are expected to continue over the Autumn deadlines. In the UK, the latest HMRC job retention scheme update includes an updated template to claim for 100 or more furloughed employees and details on fraudulent claims. While in international tax, the European Commission published a new VAT gap report.     IrelandRevenue announced plans to send letters to 90,000 businesses, as part of an intensified programme on Brexit readiness;Revenue telephone helplines are expected to continue operating with reduced opening hours over the Autumn deadlines, as staff continue to work from home inline with public health advice;UK The latest HMRC job retention scheme update includes an updated template to claim for 100 or more furloughed employees and details on fraudulent claims; COVID-19 tidbits – keep up to date as HMRC and the UK Government continue to publish updates on COVID-19 tax and related issues; andInternationalThe European Commission published a new VAT gap report, which estimates that EU countries lost an estimated €140 billion in VAT revenues in 2018. 

Sep 17, 2020
Brexit

“Get Brexit Ready Now” is the message that comes across loud and clear in recent guidance issued by Revenue and HMRC. In today’s bulletin, take a look at Revenue’s new Brexit readiness programme and the launch of their new customs declarations system set to kick in November 2020. HMRC have also issued Brexit preparedness letters to VAT-registered businesses in Great Britain trading with the EU. Additionally, you can read about the new ESRI paper that compares the impact of COVID-19 and Brexit on different sector of the Irish economy.  Revenue writes to 90,000 businesses to Get Brexit Ready NowRevenue confirmed that it is in the process of sending letters to 90,000 businesses, as part of an intensified programme of engagement on Brexit readiness. The letters emphasise the importance of being Brexit ready come 1 January 2021 and outlines steps to follow to do so. Revenue are encouraging businesses to get ready now, as the reality of Brexit looms. Revenue’s latest press statement says that starting this week, Revenue have been sending the letters to businesses that are expected to be adversely impacted by Brexit in the Republic of Ireland. The letters set out the critical Brexit preparation steps businesses need to take now. Revenue have made available the checklist and readiness article for our members to access as well.  Revenue have also published updated guidance and key information on their dedicated Brexit section, where readers can find information on popular topics such as, registering for An Economic Operators Registration And Identification (EORI) number, payment of import duty, VRT Implications of trade with the UK post-Brexit. Lynda Slattery, Head of Revenue’s Brexit Policy Unit has commented saying “Revenue is urging all businesses that will be impacted by Brexit to get ready now. Business that have any Brexit Customs queries that are not answered by the material available on the Revenue website can email enquiries to brexitqueries@revenue.ie or contact 01-7383632 to discuss Brexit preparations.” Readers can also register for Revenue’s upcoming series of live streamed Brexit information sessions taking place on 5 and 6 October 2020.   Revenue launches new customs declarations system for imports from outside the EUFrom November 2020, Revenue will implement a new import system, called the “Automated Import System (AIS)”. This new system will be introduced to comply with the provisions of the Union Customs Code (UCC), and will ensure that businesses can import goods legally from outside the EU (including the UK) using the most efficient process possible.What will change?This system will replace the existing Automated Entry Processing (AEP) system, and eManifest systems for imports. One of the most major changes under this will be the change in the format of customs import declarations. The import Single Administrative Document (SAD), currently processed within the AEP system, will be replaced by new AIS declaration types. What will not change?Securing an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number continues to be of the utmost importance for traders if they wish to import goods into the EU. Exports will continue to be managed through the AEP system until 2023. However, from November 2020 onwards, if you import and export goods from and to the EU, you must use:AIS for your import declarations, andAEP for your export declarations.Businesses are urged to prepare for this change by making sure their customs software is up to date. Further information on preparing for this change can be found on Revenue’s website.  HMRC issues letters to VAT-registered businesses in Great BritainHMRC has sent out letters VAT-registered businesses in Great Britain trading with the EU. These letters highlight the steps to take to prepare for new post-Brexit trading requirements, coming into effect starting 1 January 2021. A copy of the letter can be found here.The letters explain what businesses need to do to prepare for new processes for moving goods between Great Britain and the EU, and highlight practical steps to prepare including: Registering for a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) numberDeciding how to make customs declarationsCheck if import VAT is due at the borderCheck the government’s tariff tables and consider how your trade will be affectedChecking eligibility of imported goods for staged import controlsSign up for the Trader Support Service , if you move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland or bring goods into Northern Ireland from outside the UKThese requirements will be necessary irrespective of the outcome of the negotiations between the EU and the UK. Businesses can find more information on HMRC’s website or in the letter linked to above.  “COVID-19 and Brexit impact different parts of the economy”, states latest ESRI researchWith the Irish economy struggling to cope with the adverse impact of COVID-19, latest research says that a no-deal Brexit on top of the pandemic will be catastrophic for businesses. The latest research released by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and the Department of Finance also shows that there is limited overlap between the sectors at risk from a hard Brexit and those currently being most impacted by COVID-19. The paper examines sectoral impacts from COVID-19 and Brexit individually, and then analyses the overlap in sectoral impact from both. No sector was found to be in a category of severely exposed to both the Brexit and COVID-19 shocks. However, there are a few sectors that could be severely impacted by one but moderately impacted by the other. Sectors impacted by COVID-19 Sectors impacted by Brexit Wholesale and Retail TradeAccommodationFood ServicesConstructionIndustry Financial ServicesAgricultureFoodTraditional manufacturing  The research also notes that the ranking of risk exposure is at a sector level and that impacts on individual firms may differ from this.   Brexit Bites Read the ESRI’s latest research on Northern Ireland inputs to Republic of Ireland EU FTA (free trade agreement) exports commissioned by the Northern Ireland Department of the EconomyUK clinches historic trade deal with Japan. Worth £15.2 billion, the agreement is UK’s first major post-Brexit trade dealThe UK government have published their latest Customs, VAT and Excise UK transition legislation coming into effect from 1 January 2021  For all Brexit updates, visit our Brexit webpage. 

Sep 17, 2020

Revenue has just announced a four-week extension to the Pay & File deadline for those who file online.  For taxpayers who file their 2019 Self-assessed Income Tax Return and make the appropriate payment through ROS in respect of Preliminary Tax for 2020 and any Income Tax balance due for 2019, the due date is extended from 12 November 2020 to Thursday, 10 December 2020. For full details see eBrief 174/20.Revenue also confirmed to Chartered Accountants Ireland that the corporation tax return surcharge suspension continues to stand for the 23 September deadline.The volatile public health situation facing the country due to COVID-19 infection rates means that a decisive extension of the income tax deadline offers a much needed measure of respite and certainty to the majority of accountants and to businesses in these uncertain times. Our work with Revenue and Government on the tax deadline crisis has been a priority for the Advocacy and Voice Department of Chartered Accountants Ireland and for our fellow accountancy bodies under the umbrella group, the CCAB-I.   The Advocacy and Voice Department, headed by Dr Brian Keegan, is responsible for the public policy agenda of Chartered Accountants Ireland. We work with expert colleagues drawn from practice and industry, developing and advocating policy on matters relating to tax, financial reporting, audit and assurance, ethics and governance, and business law. Feedback from you our members is essential to our work.We will continue to represent you and inform you on the latest tax updates through Tax News, Chartered Accountants eNews and our website.

Sep 17, 2020

Developments of interest this week are outlined. ROIIAASA hosted an Audit Committee Breakfast on 10 September which included a a presentation by their Head of Operations, Lisa Campbell, on the regulatory framework in Ireland.UKThe new UK Stewardship Code took effect in January 2020 - to support prospective signatories in meeting the higher expectations set by the Code, the FRC will publish a Review of Early Reporting and is hosting a webinar to coincide with the launch of the Review on the morning of 30th September. EuropeanThe European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) has published a ques­tion­naire and an in­vi­ta­tion for in­ter­views for preparers with active mergers and ac­qui­si­tions agendas or material goodwill amounts in their financial state­ments.The European Single Electronic Format requirements are coming into force. Accountancy Europe are hosting a webinar on 12th October to bring key stakeholders together for a lively debate to cover the issues around the preparation of ESEF files and providing assurance on their compliance. InternationalThe International Fed­er­a­tion of Ac­coun­tants (IFAC) has released 'Enhancing Corporate Reporting: The Way Forward' calling for the creation of a new sus­tain­abil­ity standards board that would exist alongside the IASB under the IFRS Foun­da­tion. 

Sep 17, 2020

 Our lives have changed a lot since March. The constant newsfeed draws our focus back to restrictions or bad news, making it difficult to see any positive outcomes, but there are many new behaviours we have developed that we don’t want to give up.   What are the lockdown habits you developed in the last few months? Maybe you tried and kept some of these: Enjoying an early morning walkHaving breakfast with your kidsExploring, and appreciating, your local areaGetting out in nature every dayEmbracing online learningTackling that big DIY project and much-avoided clear-outDeveloping new gardening skillsLearning to cook or bakeStarting to play an instrumentBinged on box setsCaught up with friends on ZoomAs new agile and flexible working arrangements will be key benefits for most people, but what smaller changes made to your day-to-day life are now non-negotiable? Are there any healthy habits you would like to keep?Family mealsThere was nowhere to rush off to, so families got to enjoy meals together again. This was certainly a novelty for anyone with teenagers at home or if a parent had a long commute. Sitting together as a family to enjoy a meal became the norm, so holding onto this habit would be beneficial for everyone.CommunityAs movements were restricted initially people explored their local community a bit more. No commute meant we saw neighbours we had not seen in a long time. There are many heart-warming stories of people helping each other within a community setting. This sense of community had been lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life and has found a welcome return and hopefully, we will keep and cherish it.Activity/HealthSome people binge-watched box sets, and some binge walked and did daily workouts online. Daily walks became very popular and we enjoyed nature again. Being active and having a healthy heart is always good, so hopefully, we will be able to carry these activities into the future.Self-careThe last few months have been a time of anxiety and stress, particularly if you have a vulnerable person in the family. To manage stress and anxiety many people took us meditation or yoga. Both are healthy skills with many benefits, so are always good to have and maintain.AppreciationAbove all else, the crisis has taught us appreciation. To take time to consider our surroundings, our family, friends, and appreciate all that is good in our lives. It has allowed us to reflect and consider changing things which were not so good for us.   By showing appreciation and reflecting we are more aware and conscious that others may need help or support, and this is the best habit we could take forward and keep.CA Support is here to support our students, members, and their families. Contact the CA Support team on mobile: (353) 86 024 3294 or email:  casupport@charteredaccountants.ie

Sep 16, 2020
Public Policy

In this week’s Public Policy news, read how Ireland has officially entered recession, how the new National Waste Action Plan for a Circular economy intends to move the focus from disposal to production, about two support schemes now available for Northern Ireland businesses, and how the EU plans to make a more resilient green and digital future Europe.Ireland enters recession following biggest quarterly drop ever recordedThe latest quarterly national accounts released by the Central Statistics Office last week showed that Ireland’s economy has officially entered recession. Ireland’s GDP has contracted by 6.1 percent during the second quarter of 2020. A recession is defined as the GDP contracting two quarters in a row. Consumer spending decreased by 19.6 percent, while industry and government spending increased by 7.5 percent.  Overall economic activity was partly offset by an increase of €37.8 billion in net exports of goods and services in Q2. The following sectors contracted significantly: Construction: 38.3 percentDistribution, transport, hotels and restaurants: 30.3 percentAgriculture, forestry and fishing: 60.6 percentArts and entertainment: 65.5 percentInformation and Communication: 1.5 percentMinister Finance Paschal Donohoe reportedly stated that there has been a strong pick-up in the third quarter of this year, according to indicators available to Government, and that Ireland compares favourably against the UK, eurozone and the US, where GDP declined by considerably more in the same period. Ireland publishes its Waste Action Plan for a Circular EconomyThe Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment this month published its Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy. The policy is part of a new National Waste Action Plan and aligns with the goals of the European Green Deal, which seeks to embed climate action in all strands of public policy. The policy contains over 200 measures across various waste areas, including the Circular Economy, Plastics and Packaging and Green Public Procurement, and its goal is to move the focus away from waste disposal and look at resources more broadly to maximise their value rather than disposing of them. The plan is also summarised in infographics, which describe key actions and targets for both individuals and businesses. Invest NI makes two new COVID-19 schemes available  Minister for the Economy, Diane Dodds last week announced two new support schemes available to Northern Ireland businesses:£1million Digital Selling Capability Grant to help retailers and wholesalers better access consumer demand and grow online sales; and£5million Equity Investment Fund to help early stage and seed stage SMEs access finance. Both schemes opened for applications on 9 September. They are operated by Invest Northern Ireland, which is developing several new initiatives to help companies in the new business environment post-COVID-19.Kevin Holland, CEO of Invest NI, described SMEs as “the lifeblood of the Northern Ireland economy” and stated that the two new recovery schemes are “part of a range of solutions we are putting in place to help businesses progress recovery plans, strengthen supply chains, develop new products and access finance.”More information on Business Supports available for Northern Ireland can be found on the Chartered Accountants Ireland COVID-19 Hub, updated regularly. EU integrates strategic foresight into policymakingThe EU has published its strategy to integrate foresight into policymaking. The aim of the strategy is to help understand future challenges and opportunities, to identify major trends, explore alternative futures and design forward-looking policies to make Europe more resilient, green, digital and fair in the future. I’s first annual report Strategic Foresight - Charting the course towards a more resilient Europe focuses on social and economic, geopolitical, green and digital resilience. Read all our updates on our Public Policy web centre.

Sep 14, 2020
Brexit

“Get Brexit Ready Now” is the message that comes across loud and clear in recent guidance issued by the Irish Government. In today’s bulletin, read the Institute’s practical steps to help businesses across the island to get ready, read more about the launch of Revenue’s new customs declarations system, set to kick in November 2020. You can also read about the Irish Government’s new Brexit Readiness Action Plan. Prepare for no-deal Brexit immediately, say Chartered Accountants Ireland With all the uncertainty surrounding the Brexit negotiations, one thing businesses can be sure of; come 1 January 2021, the trading environment will be vastly different than the simplicity offered by the current EU Single Market. In a press statement released by the Institute, businesses on the island of Ireland are being warned that given the lack of progress in Brexit negotiations, they have no option but to assume the EU and the UK will fail to reach agreement by the end of the year and to prepare accordingly.  We have outlined eight practical measures that businesses on the island of Ireland should adopt now:Register online with HMRC or Revenue for an EORI number – you cannot trade without one.Contact your suppliers and logistics providers about the continuity of goods and services you need for trade.Check if your non-UK suppliers use the UK as a land-bridge and ascertain whether this will cost and cause delaysClassify the goods that you import or export for customs duties and know their originSeek out a customs agent or enhance in house customs knowledgeEnsure that you have a line of credit to deal with the customs duties that will arise on imports from the UK or Ireland.Check whether your current certifications, licences or authorisations will be valid post-Brexit.Use the Government supports available. You can read more about the press coverage of this statement in our “In the Media” section of the newsletter.Revenue launches new customs declarations system for imports from outside the EUFrom November 2020, Revenue will implement a new import system, called the “Automated Import System (AIS)”. This new system will be introduced to comply with the provisions of the Union Customs Code (UCC), and will ensure that businesses can import goods legally from outside the EU (including the UK) using the most efficient process possible.What will change?This system will replace the existing Automated Entry Processing (AEP) system, and eManifest systems for imports. One of the most major changes under this will be the change in the format of customs import declarations. The import Single Administrative Document (SAD), currently processed within the AEP system, will be replaced by new AIS declaration types. What will not change?Securing an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number continues to be of the utmost importance for traders if they wish to import goods into the EU. Exports will continue to be managed through the AEP system until 2023. However, from November 2020 onwards, if you import and export goods from and to the EU, you must use:AIS for your import declarationsandAEP for your export declarations. Businesses are urged to prepare for this change by making sure their customs software is up to date. Further information on preparing for this change can be found on Revenue’s website. Irish Government launches Brexit Readiness Action PlanThe Irish Government has launched the Brexit Readiness Action Plan, that sets out the steps that businesses and individuals need to take now to be ready for the end of the Transition Period on 31 December 2020. The Bill covers readiness measures at Governmental Level, and in key areas such as trade in goods, trade in services, connectivity, transport and north-south & east-west relations.The Government has also published the General Scheme of the 2020 Brexit Omnibus Bill which is intended to address a wide range of complex issues that arise post transition period. The Bill will be considered by the Houses of the Oireachtas later this term and the tax sections of the Bill are discussed in the Irish Tax News section of this bulletin.What is the Internal Market Bill, and why is it important?As reported first by the Financial Times, the UK government has released their widely discussed Internal Market Bill, which has gained quite a bit of traction lately as the legislation that will “eliminate the legal force of parts of the Withdrawal Agreement" in areas such as State aid and the new customs arrangements for Northern Ireland. The UK Internal Market Bill (explanatory notes) is draft legislation on how the UK wants to manage trade within its borders and territories after Brexit. This Bill has caused major frenzy last week as it essentially “rewrites” parts of the Withdrawal Agreement signed between the EU and the UK. The Bill covers key negotiation areas such as State aid, unfettered access to goods, spending power and devolution. However, two aspects of the Bill that affect Northern Ireland have caused much debate and commentary – State aid and customs. The Bill seeks to eliminate customs arrangements in Northern Ireland which could compromise the ability to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. The Bill would also give unilateral power to the UK government to change or disapply export rules for goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.  If implemented, this Bill would suggest that the EU would have little ability to influence State aid rules in the UK.  The UK government want to change rules to set aside EU law and ECJ law on State aid. Article 10 of the NI protocol sets out that EU State aid rules will apply in certain cases where relevant to trade in goods and electricity between Northern Ireland and the EU.  The UK government is seeking to override this and instead ensure a uniform approach across the UK to the application of EU State aid law under the Protocol. The Internal Market Bill is undergoing its second reading in the House of Commons today. It’s implementation will be subject to debate and approval by both chambers of the UK parliament before it becomes law. The UK is however aiming to pass this Bill before the transition period deadline expires on 31 December 2020. What about the Withdrawal Agreement? The Withdrawal Agreement as it is currently written says that the UK must notify the EU of any State aid decisions that would affect Northern Ireland’s goods market. It also says that special customs arrangements apply in Northern Ireland to protect the EU market. If implemented, the draft Bill would be in clear breach of several provisions contained within the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland not least the good faith provisions. The EU have stated that the Bill is in defiance of the stated aim of the Bill, which is ultimately to protect the Good Friday (Belfast) AgreementInternational reactionsIn a statement following the “extraordinary” meeting of the EU – UK Joint Committee, Maros Sefcovic, the EU Vice President in charge of overseeing the implementation of the divorce deal released a hard-hitting statement which calls on the UK government to withdraw the conflicting measures from the draft Bill in by the end of the month at the latest. They have also concluded the statement by indirectly warning the UK government of the possibility of legal action as per the mechanisms and legal remedies in place in the Withdrawal Agreement to address violations of legal actions. US Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi has also released a statement on Brexit & a potential US – UK trade agreement, stating that “if the UK violates that international treaty and Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be absolutely no chance of a US – UK trade agreement passing the (US) Congress”. For all Brexit updates, visit our Brexit webpage. 

Sep 14, 2020