With just weeks to go before the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, there is still no certainty on the outcome of the UK’s departure from the EU. Businesses have committed significant time and resources to prepare for the end of the transition period. Rolling deadlines have left too many business-critical questions unanswered. It will now be impossible for many businesses to be ready on 1 January.
From knowing whether staff will be able to travel across borders for work; whether IT teething problems could mean delays at borders; whether firms will face tariffs that not only undermine their competitiveness, but also their very existence; to what the new rules of origin are in the event of a deal. These are all questions without answers. They are technical, but they will have a very real impact upon people’s day-to-day lives across the UK and the EU. Unresolved, they could lead to high prices, fewer choices, job losses, and even greater uncertainty.
That’s why the CBI has called for political leaders across Europe to work together to provide businesses with the time and the guidance they need to prepare fully for the end of the transition period. And we know it’s possible; political leaders have provided extensive support for our economies during the pandemic. With time so short, both sides need to build on this support and take steps to minimise disruption no matter the outcome. Without them, much of the progress made recovering from the pandemic will be lost.
To help policy makers, the CBI has published 48 concrete, practical recommendations for the UK and the EU that will help mitigate disruption on 1 January and aid the post-COVID recovery across Europe. These recommendations have been developed in consultation with the CBI’s membership and Trade Associations across key sectors, representing the views of thousands of firms affected. The recommendations are underpinned by five key principles:
- Customs andmovement of goods - leaving the EU Customs Union will create new costs and checks, but both sides can take steps to mitigate day one disruption and give firms the time they need to adjust
- Regulated goods - leaving the EU Single Market will lead to additional burdens for exporters – from veterinary checks to relabelling – but phasing in these changes will allow businesses to put precious resources into building back from a difficult year, not unproductive administrative procedures
- Data - the free-flow of data across borders underpins virtually all elements of trade in the modern economy; maintaining its seamless flow between the UK and the EU will help support the UK’s thriving digital and tech sectors and keep red tape and costs low for small firms
- People -allowing employees to continue to travel between the UK and the EU in the short term – including short-term busines trips – is a key facilitator of services trade and will avoid complexities and costs for firms and their clients
- Regulated services - maintaining the provision of services between the UK and the EU on day one will preserve consumer choice and keep costs down for clients.
With complex issues to solve before the end of the transition period, the CBI will continue to feed the challenges faced by businesses into government and the EU, to mitigate the level of disruption on 1 January and bolster business preparations. But we are also on hand to help our members prepare for the changes coming on 1t January, deal or no deal. We will continue to keep members up to date with the latest guidance from both sides on our UK transition hub, and will be on hand over the Christmas period to answer any member queries at EUnegotiations@cbi.org.uk.