EC adopts Communication on Brexit preparations
The European Commission yesterday (19 July) adopted a Communication outlining the work being done to prepare for “all outcomes” of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.
In a statement issued yesterday, the EC said: “On 30 March 2019, the United Kingdom will leave the EU and become a third country. This will have repercussions for citizens, businesses and administrations in both the United Kingdom and the EU. These repercussions range from new controls at the EU’s outer border with the UK, to the validity of UK-issued licences, certificates and authorisations and to different rules for data transfers.”
There is of course considerable uncertainty about whether the UK will be leaving with a “hard”, “soft” or “no-deal” Brexit.
The EC statement continued: “While the EU is working day and night for a deal ensuring an orderly withdrawal, the UK’s withdrawal will undoubtedly cause disruption – for example in business supply chains – whether or not there is a deal. As there is still no certainty that there will be a ratified withdrawal agreement in place on that date, or what it will entail, preparations have been ongoing to try to ensure that the EU institutions, Member States and private parties are prepared for the UK’s withdrawal. And in any event, even if an agreement is reached, the UK will no longer be a Member State after withdrawal and will no longer enjoy the same benefits as a member. Therefore, preparing for the UK becoming a third country is of paramount importance, even in the case of a deal between the EU and the UK.
“Having said that, preparing for the UK’s withdrawal is not only the responsibility of the EU institutions. It is a joint effort at EU, national and regional levels, and also includes in particular economic operators and other private parties – everyone must now step up preparations for all scenarios and take responsibility for their specific situation.”
Click here to download the communication, hosted on the EC’s Europa website.
Responding to yesterday’s Communication, The British Retail Consortium (BRC) noted the EC’s “no-deal preparedness” – but also repeated its warning that “in the event of a no-deal Brexit, movement of goods between the UK and EU would be severely impacted, even if the UK kept its border open for goods”.
In a statement posted on the BRC website, BRC Chairman Richard Pennycook said: “We must avoid a cliff edge scenario on the 29 March 2019 at all costs. Failure to achieve a smooth transition will create a lose-lose scenario for UK consumers and EU producers.
“Our food supply chain is complex, highly organised and ultimately fragile. Even if the UK keeps its borders open, the EU application of regulation and tariffs at borders in relation to the UK would cause significant delays and will lead to food rotting in transit.
“Frictionless trade is essential if the industry is to continue to provide the level of choice and value in shops that UK consumers are used to seeing. It is now of the utmost importance that the UK Government gets the Withdrawal Agreement over the line and allows for a smooth transition. We also need the EU to be flexible and creative in negotiation and recognise what is at stake for exports to the UK. Time is running out.”