On January 1, the United Kingdom confirmed its announced goodbye to the European Union (EU). The call Brexi it became effective after the EU and the British arrived at the last minute, on December 24, to a principle of Trade and Cooperation Agreement to govern their relations from now on. This agreement specifies many of the issues that concern more than 3,300 Catalan companies that export to the United Kingdom, of which 2,200 do so on a regular basis.
Between 2019 and 2020, up to 1,800 companies have already gone through the ACTION Brexit window to solve your doubts. Now, in year 1 of Brexit, this information and advice service – online, in person and on the ground, from the ACCIÓ office in London – is consolidated as the key to making it easier for Catalan companies to adapt to the new reality of UK-EU relations.
In the short term, companies will find more complexity when it comes to import and export to the United Kingdom as a result of changes in customs procedures that will imply more bureaucracy and the relevant inspections for some products. This will also lead to greater logistical complexity.
Furthermore, the lack of time to ratify the agreement between the EU and the UK before the end of the transition period December 31, 2020, made both parties agree to its application provisionally as of January 1 of this year. The European Parliament has time until February 28 to ratify and sign the agreement. Therefore, the information available today is still provisional and will have to be review once the agreement is ratified.
The most notable changes
There will be no tariffs. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement signed with the EU creates a free trade area without quotas or tariffs.
There will be border controls. By being outside the customs union and the single market, the traffic of goods will be subject to the inconvenience of border bureaucracy, although Brussels and London have agreed to some simplifications of controls. However, companies that want to export to the United Kingdom will be informed about the documentation to have prepared so that the goods do not detain them at the border, such as the Kent Access Permit, the EORI (registration and identification number of economic operators), or the general documentation (export DUA, Invoice, Packing List, etc.)
New regulations. All products will be subject to UK regulations, which may not necessarily be the same as the EU. However, a system has been created to simplify the process by creating “self-certificates” of compliance with the standards.
Sectors included. The commercial agreement covers some services such as telecommunications, transport, audits and legal services, but currently does not refer to others such as audiovisual or financial.
Mobility of people. You do not need a visa to do tourism for a period of less than six months (yes, a passport, from October 1 of this year). As for workers, you must comply with the entry conditions for foreigners. The British government has a “point immigration system” that prioritizes highly skilled workers. This does not affect Europeans residing on the British island, who will keep their rights intact.
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Òscar Martí: “Every company with potential must have an opportunity in the United Kingdom”
The director of the ACCIÓ Foreign Office in London, Òscar Martí, has lived through Brexit on the ground. With finally final conditions, the support of ACCIÓ’s Brexit Window allows clearing the way for all Catalan companies interested in the United Kingdom.
– Do you think that the last minute agreement is good news for Catalan companies?
– The most important thing is that we have avoided tariffs and now we have a defined framework and we know which areas we are talking about and with what effect. Going international in the UK will always be a bit more complicated than before, but it will be less so than in most non-EU countries.
– More than 3,300 Catalan companies export to the United Kingdom. What should they keep in mind?
– It will be necessary to have an EORI. It is a simple and fast procedure, but essential when exporting outside the single market. The general export documentation (DUA, Invoice, Packing List, etc.) must also be prepared. For any questions about these procedures, the ACCIÓ Brexit Window can help them solve them quickly.
– Why should a Catalan company that has not worked in the British market consider going right now?
– It is the fifth largest economy in the world and one of the world’s poles of reference in life sciences, finance and technology. Every business with potential should have an opportunity in the UK. From the ACCIÓ office in London we help companies understand their particularities.