Brexit update

New customs proposals laid out by Government in paper on future relationship with EU

Expats with businesses involved in exporting and importing to the UK will be interested in the UK’s latest Brexit proposals.

The new British paper sets out a future customs relationship with the EU. The document aims for two broad approaches involving:

  • A highly streamlined customs arrangement between the UK and EU, with customs requirements that are as frictionless as possible. The aim would be to continue some existing arrangements with the EU, reduce or remove barriers to trade through new arrangements, and adopt technology-based solutions to make it easier for businesses to comply with customs procedures.
  • A new customs partnership with the EU by aligning our approach to the customs border in a way that removes the need for a UK-EU customs border. One potential approach would involve the UK mirroring the EU’s requirements for imports from the rest of the world where the final destination is the EU.

The paper also outlines details of a new interim period with the EU. The model would mean close association with the EU customs union for a time-limited period, would ensure that UK businesses would only have to adjust once to a new customs relationship. This would minimise disruption and offer business a smooth and orderly transition.

David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU said:

“The approaches we are setting out today will benefit both the EU and UK and avoid a cliff-edge for businesses and individuals on both sides.”

“The way we approach the movement of goods across our border will be a critical building block for our independent trade policy. An interim period would mean businesses only need to adjust once to the new regime and would allow for a smooth and orderly transition.”

However reaction to the proposals from EU officials was less enthusiastic. A European Commission spokesman said:

“As Michel Barnier has said on several occasions, ‘frictionless trade’ is not possible outside the single market and customs union.”

And EU brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt was equally skeptical of the plan. He said:

“To be in and out of the Customs Union and “invisible borders” is a fantasy. First need to secure citizens rights and a financial settlement.”

Home secretary commissions major study on EU workers

The British Home Secretary has commissioned the Migration Advisory Commitee to examine the role that EU nationals play in the UK economy and society. The study will help Britain formulate an immigration policy that it hopes will be reciprocated by the EU for British citizens. It will look in detail at the British labour market and the overall role of migration in the wider economy. The major study will also focus on how the UK’s immigration system should be aligned with a modern industrial strategy.

The Home Office will ask the Migration Advisory Commitee to look at patterns of EU and EEA (European Economic Area) migration, taking into consideration regional distribution, skill levels, industry sectors and the role of self-employed, part-time, agency, temporary and seasonal workers.

Amber Rudd the Home Secretary said:

“Leaving the European Union gives us the opportunity to take control of immigration from the EU. We will ensure we continue to attract those who benefit us economically, socially and culturally.

“But at the same time, our new immigration system will give us control of the volume of people coming here – giving the public confidence we are applying our own rules on who we want to come to the UK and helping us to bring down net migration to sustainable levels.

“The study I am asking the Migration Advisory Commitee to complete is a major step in ensuring we create a system that works in the best interests of the country.”

UK outlines Brexit negotiating approach

Position papers setting out how Britain will negotiate important Brexit related issues and how the UK will form a new partnership with the EU after leaving have been published.

The documents lay out the UK’s approach to withdrawing from the UK with respect to:

  • Ongoing Union Judicial and Administrative Proceedings
  • Nuclear materials and safeguards issues
  • Privileges and immunities

David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union said:

“While we are leaving the EU we are not leaving Europe, and we want to continue cooperating with our friends and neighbours on issues of mutual importance.”

“By ending the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union UK courts will be supreme once more. Our sensible approach to pending cases means there would be a smooth and orderly transition to when the court no longer has jurisdiction in the UK.”

Barnier remains firm on EU citizens’ rights

In other Brexit related news, Michel Barnier, The EU’s top negotiator said there were still big differences between the EU and UK on the rights of EU citizens living in Britain.

Barnier said:

“The British position does not allow those persons concerned to continue to live their lives as they do today.”

He said the European Court of Justice must have jurisdiction to guarantee citizens’ rights. Barnier said the EU had made its stance on the issue clear and was waiting on Britain to do the same.

“Our team is ready, I’m ready. I’m very prepared to work on this very quickly – night and day, the weekend.”

“We want EU citizens in Britain to have the same rights as British citizens who live in the EU.”

He said that would require the European Court of Justice to be the “Ultimate guarantor” of those rights, because Britain could simply change its laws later, creating uncertainty.

He also mentioned that UK law also imposes restrictions on reuniting families across borders, something that does not apply to UK citizens living in Spain.

The sticking point comes as a result of Britain’s initial offer where EU citizens living in the UK would be given ‘settled status’ for those that have been living in the country before a specific cut off date. This will ensure they would remain entitled to the same benefits and services as they do at present. The British Prime Minister, Theresa May said after making the offer:

“The UK fully expects that the EU and its member states will ensure, in a reciprocal way, that the rights set out above are similarly protected for UK nationals living across the EU before the specified date.

“Firstly, UK nationals in the EU must be able to attain a right equivalent to settled status in the country in which they reside.

“Secondly, they must be able to continue to access benefits and services across the member states akin to the way in which they do now.”

The UK has said that when they have an agreement with the EU, further information will be published on the status of UK nationals living in the EU.

TorFX customers in favour of single market access

In other Brexit related news, a survey of customers by currency exchange company TorFX has found a range of interesting views one year after the referendum vote. Perhaps most strikingly 90% of respondents said that the fall in the Pound’s value had affected them. Also 63% of respondents said they were now not confident of buying property in the EU and 95% said they would not have voted differently if they were given the option again. Full results from the survey can be found below:

TorFX customer surveys
TorFX customers did not vote to leave the EU and are pessimistic regarding exchange rates


The clock is ticking as negotiations continue

The BBC has provided a roadmap for the Brexit negotiations. With Article 50 triggered in March of this year, there remains less than two years for a deal to be reached unless all 27 countries agree to extend negotiations.

Brexit flowchart updated with Great Repeal Bill details

Further Brexit resources