The Conservative government published a series of notes advising people and businesses how to protect themselves from the potential disruption of a ‘no deal’ break with the E.U. on Thursday, from stockpiling drugs to new paperwork for trade.
On 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom notified the European Council of its intention to leave the European Union. Unless a ratified withdrawal agreement establishes another date or the European Council, in accordance with Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union and in agreement with the United Kingdom, unanimously decides that the Treaties cease to apply at a later date, all Union primary and secondary law will cease to apply to the United Kingdom from 30 March 2019, 00:00h (CET) (‘the withdrawal date’).
The United Kingdom will then become a third country. These notices, which aim at preparing citizens and stakeholders for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, set out the consequences in a range of policy areas.
On Thursday, the British government published the first 25 of more than 70 papers which basically lay its plans in the eventuality that no deal will be secured on its future relationship with the European Union following Brexit.
The “no deal” Brexit cover everything from financial services to nuclear materials.
Britain is due to leave the EU in March 2019. In recent weeks, concerns have risen that the country could crash out of the bloc with no deal.
An AP explainer says that the toughest nut to crack, in the deal was Britain’s pledge that it wouldn’t re-establish border posts and customs checks along the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the only land border between a post-Brexit Britain and the EU.
“While the commitment is designed to protect the peace process in Northern Ireland, it raises thorny questions about sovereignty and territorial integrity for Theresa May’s minority government, which relies on the support of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to pass legislation.”
Last December, Britain and the EU agreed on the initial terms of the divorce, allowing negotiators to move on to talks about the future relationship between the two sides.
The so called divorce agreement gives a guarantee to the 3.7 million or so EU citizens living in Britain the right to stay after Brexit. The same applies for the estimated 1.2 million British citizens living in EU countries. Britain also agreed to pay the EU a divorce settlement that many estimate could touch 40 billion pounds to cover the U.K.’s share of commitments made while Britain was a member.
The other points requiring agreement are related to what type of access British companies will have to the EU’s market of 500 million people. Britain wants “as frictionless trade as possible,” but the EU says the U.K. can only have tariff-free access if it abides by the bloc’s rules, including free movement of people. Britain is reluctant to accept this because concern about the scale of immigration was one of the driving issues in the Brexit vote, and the government has promised to take back control of the country’s borders, laws and economy.
Britain has proposed a transition period in which current EU rules would remain in effect until the end of 2020 to give businesses and individuals time to adjust to the changes. But that is subject to negotiation, so there’s no certainty over a transition period. Commentators have raised concerns about shortages of food and medicines in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
What do the documents say
According to BBC political correspondent Chris Mason described the publication as a “vast swirling porridge of detail – much of it at a technical level, advising individual industries about the manner in which they are regulated in the event of a no-deal Brexit”.
In the 24 documents, which cover industries including medicine, finance and farming, it says:
- The cost of card payments between the UK and EU will “likely increase” and won’t be covered by a ban on surcharges
- Businesses trading with the EU should start planning for new customs checks, and might have to pay for new software or logistical help
- Britons living elsewhere in Europe could lose access to UK banking and pension services without EU action
- UK organic food producers could face new hurdles to exporting to the EU
- Pharmaceutical companies have been told to stockpile an extra six weeks’ worth of medicine to ensure a “seamless” supply
- The UK would continue to accept new medicines that have been tested in the EU
- Low-value parcels from the EU would no longer be eligible for VAT relief
- New picture warnings will be needed for cigarette packets as the EU owns the copyright to the current ones
Where one can access the documents?
What’s the EU position?
The EU has issued its set of preparedness notices in case it would be a no-deal Brexit.
AP, FT, BBC, Washington Post