Tag: Brexit

The effects of Brexit: products not allowed at the border and no fruit in many shops
Europe

The effects of Brexit: products not allowed at the border and no fruit in many shops

The effects of Brexit: Netherlands border agents confiscated yesterday all the ham and cheese sandwiches an English gentleman arriving by ship from the United Kingdom brought with him. The man asked why and the border officials explained that because of the Brexit, it is no longer allowed to import this type of product. “Sorry, sir. This is Brexit.” One of the agents said. That is an emblematic scene of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union effects. 

The agents strictly but correctly applied the new rules. Because from 11 pm on 31 December 2020, the UK officially left the European single market. And although Boris Johnson snatched a theoretically zero duty tariff-free trade agreement from the last, this still implies a huge number of customs declarations, up to tens of millions per year. But above all, some fresh products can no longer enter the European Union freely from the United Kingdom, now a non-EU country, even if you are a tourist, exactly, as it already happens at the US border. 

The rule applies above all to meat (whether fresh or cured) and cheeses and dairy products, for reasons of safety and health, as similar foods must be checked in advance by the authorities to avoid importing diseases. The United Kingdom, unlike the EU, still allows tourists and ordinary citizens to bring the ham, cheese, and in general dairy products and meats, if these come from the EU, also because however London cannot yet carry out such checks. So, barring a few misinformed British border agents, as the rules are, it is still possible to bring sandwiches, cold cuts, and cheeses from the EU to the UK, a rather common practice for many migrant workers and visitors.

Meanwhile, fruit and vegetables are starting to run out in an increasing number of UK supermarkets, as explained by an alarmed Daily Mail, one of the country’s most pro-Brexit newspapers. In Britain, the cause of the problem is the long lines of trucks seen in Dover in late December. When French President Emmanuel Macron closed the borders to stop the English coronavirus variant. The blockade and the long waiting discouraged many factories from shipping goods and merchandise at the Brexit beginning.

In Northern Ireland too, goods are starting to run out. The problem here is that, in turn, goods from Great Britain to and around Belfast have to undergo customs checks and declarations, although this takes place within the UK. According to the Brexit agreement between the Boris Johnson government and Brussels, London has to check many products before crossing the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland.

The latter remained in the customs union and EU single market. The decision came to avoid re-installing the border between the two Irish countries and to preserve peace between them. Therefore, all goods from the UK must be checked and selected as if crossing an EU country border.

French politics is set to witness return of Michel Barnier
Europe

French politics is set to witness return of Michel Barnier

French politics: EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says he is going to return to French politics in coming weeks

Former European Commissioner and EU’s chief Brexit negotiator is planning to return to French politics. Weeks after the EU and UK agreed on the much-awaited post-Brexit trade deal, Barnier has expressed his intentions to go back to France and take his place in the Les Républicains party. The 69-year-old politician, who had previously served the French government as a Foreign Minister and agriculture fisheries minister, has been a member of the party for over 55 years now.

For the last five years, Barnier has been leading the EU’s team in numerous rounds of negotiations with Britain with the aim of reaching a Brexit trade deal. 

In a recent video interview, Barnier stated that he will go back to his home country in a few weeks to take back his place in French politics. The veteran politician also confirmed that he will not be joining President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist movement La République en Marche (LREM), instead would return to the right-wing Les Republicains. 

“I will try to add my stone to my political family which needs to be rebuilt, and to the French political debate,” he told French radio. 

However, he chose not to answer a question related to speculations that he is looking to challenge Macron in the 2022 presidential elections. 

With France’s presidential elections less than two years away, President Macron’s popularity has suffered a substantial downfall in recent months. Amid this development, he is seeking re-election in 2022 after his LREM defeated Les Républicains in the 2017 presidential polls. Notably, the main center-right party of the European nation, Les Républicains, has been in chaos in the absence of a prominent leader. 

After years of working on Brexit, Barnier is all set to retire from the European Commission on January 31. However, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen can reportedly ask him to stay back to carry out parliamentary ratification of the Brexit deal, noting that MEPs are yet to approve the trade agreement in the coming weeks. Ursula von der Leyen and Barnier have not yet discussed when the final ratification can take place.

Meanwhile, EU and UK negotiators concluded the long-running talks and agreed on a post-Brexit trade deal on December 24. With a trade deal in place, Britain left the single market and customs union of the EU on December 31.

Difficult and tricky days ahead as UK adjusts to new EU rules post Brexit trade agreement
Europe

Difficult and tricky days ahead as UK adjusts to new EU rules post Brexit trade agreement

New EU Rules: UK must brace and prepare itself for days ahead full of bumps as it gets in grip with the new EU rules. Minister Michael Gove has warned the UK businesses and travelers of “practical and procedural changes” when Brexit transition period will end on December 31. 

The post-Brexit trade deal was unanimously approved by the 27 EU member states, making it effective January 1 onwards. However, European Parliament will vote for the motion in January, the EU rules can be applicable provisionally. UK MPs in the House of Commons and the House of Lords are set to debate and vote for it on Wednesday, December 30. 

Gove said, “The nature of our new relationship with the EU – outside the Single Market and Customs Union – means that there are practical and procedural changes that businesses and citizens need to get ready for. We know that there will be some disruption as we adjust to new ways of doing business with the EU, so it is vital that we all take the necessary action now.” 

UK has urged its businesses to understand the new rules regarding import and export of goods properly, including the rules specifically for trading with Northern Ireland, and also consider how they plan to make EU trade customs declarations. 

As UK is entering new trade agreement with the bloc, measures are being taken across the country to prepare for it. Scotland government has entered in new lease to use former airfield located in Dumfries and Galloway as emergency lorry park. This will be used for up to 240 vehicles in case of any disruption at Cairnryan port, near Stranraer. Traffic measures have been implemented in Wales on key road leading to Holyhead port. Travelers from Great Britain entering Northern Ieland will have to declare cash of over €10,000 or more starting January 1. 

The trade deal was reached after months of negotiations and delays on key issues including fishing rights and business rules. The Brexit deal has been agreed upon few days before December 31 deadline. This would allow for trade between UK and EU without extra taxes on goods. 

UK had exited from EU in 2016 after voting, and left actually on January 31, 2020. However, the leaders from both sides had until end of the year to chalk out a trade deal. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the new trade agreement will offer new freedoms to people who might have felt left behind. But fishery sector leaders have accused Johnson, who is already walking over thin ice, of ‘caving in’ and sacrificing the interests of this sector. Labour too has called it a ‘thin deal’ that would require more efforts to protect jobs of UK people. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak reassured London that it would not be affected adversely by the deal. On the contrary he said that the government would be “doing a few things a bit differently and looking at how we make the City of London the most attractive place to list new companies anywhere in the world.” Mr. Sunak called the deal a unifying moment for the country. 

Johnson urges businesses to prepare for no-deal Brexit scenario
Europe

Johnson urges businesses to prepare for no-deal Brexit scenario

No-deal Brexit scenario: British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, for the first time admitted that Brexit no deal was a stronger possibility and urged his people to start preparing for the no-deal scenario. Johnson, who had earlier committed to his country that he would “go the extra mile” to get the deal, expressed disappointment in his tone after crunch meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday. Johnson said that EU left UK in a difficult spot, wherein no-deal Australia-style model looked like a more viable option.

“It was put to me that this was kind of a bit like twins, and the UK is one twin the EU is another, and if the EU decides to have a haircut then the UK is going to have a haircut or else face punishment. Or if the EU decides to buy an expensive handbag then the UK has to buy an expensive handbag too or else face tariffs,” he said.

He added, “Clearly that is not the sensible way to proceed and it’s unlike any other free trade deal. It’s a way of keeping the UK kind of locked in the EU’s … regulatory orbit.”

He added on Thursday: “I do think we need to be very, very clear. There is now a strong possibility – a strong possibility – that we will have a solution that is much more like an Australian relationship with the EU than a Canadian relationship with the EU.”

Back home, British PM has been facing immense pressure from senior Tory leaders to bring back a deal as they said that no-deal would not only impact UK’s economy but also increase its security threat. Analysts believe that in case of Australia-style trade deal, UK would directly lose 2% of GDP along with facing huge tariffs on wide range of goods. 

Besides, as Tobias Ellwood, the chair of the defence committee, pointed out, no-deal would have huge security implications as well. He said, “There will be economic repercussions but also security ones. Our Channel waters are being buzzed by Russian submarines, our airspace by Russian jets. We need alliances – and Europe needs to stand and work together. This would be us turning the other way, just as we assume the G7 presidency.”

Johnson assured his country that the Brexit negotiators would not stop talks, and “continue to negotiate” but added “looking at where we are I do think it’s vital that everyone now gets ready for that Australian option.” Trade deal between Australia and EU is governed World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, though the former is still negotiating for a free trade deal with EU.

EU Fate Hangs Over Controversial Internal Bill Voted Out By British MPs
Europe

EU Fate Hangs Over Controversial Internal Bill Voted Out By British MPs

EU Fate: The peer’s amendment to the controversial Internal Market Bill has been rejected by the House of Commons. This means that the deleted clauses will now be reinserting allowing the government to override the Brexit withdrawal agreement and breach international law. The EU has been against this from the beginning. The Internal market bill tends to be skewed and seems to be favouring the UK. 

A majority MP vote has handed over these powers to ministers within the bill, which the government insists are necessary to prevent a border in the Irish Sea. The bill, which sets out how trade within the UK will work once it is outside the EU’s single market and customs union, will now be passed back to the House of Lords.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson led government is not going to come in terms with EU conditions over trade settlement post the Brexit unless the latter makes amendments to the Internal Market Bill as 10 Downing Street deems it appropriate. 

Finally, Boris Johnson has given the European Union an olive branch. He has offered to drop contentious clauses in the UK internal market bill if a trade deal is agreed.

It is now confirmed that the UK government has formally offered to withdraw or deactivate parts of the bill. This would allow it to override aspects of the Brexit withdrawal agreement if it reaches an accord with the EU this week.

If conditions are met the way UK wants it, the UK government would be prepared to remove Clause 44 of the UK Internal Market Bill, concerning export declarations.

A formal statement from the PM’s office also stated, “The UK government would also be prepared to deactivate clauses 45 and 47, concerning state aid, such that they could be used only when consistent with the United Kingdom’s rights and obligations under international law.”

Brexit deal enters decisive phase, no certainty visible on cards
Europe

Brexit deal enters decisive phase, no certainty visible on cards

Brexit deal enters decisive phase: With just 36 days left in termination of UK’s transition period, the pressure started mounting on both the sides to finalise a deal. Despite the pressure, things didn’t seem to be moving towards finalisation and what followed was the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier threat to David Frost that he might pull out of the Brexit negotiations. Barnier told his counterpart that unless UK changed its approach in the ongoing negotiations in the next 48 hours, there might be a no deal between two sides. 

Barnier pointed out that it was pointless to take negotiations further unless Britain was was ready to agree and compromise on the key outstanding issues. Most of the legalities were complete but what was left was consensus over three key issues – fishing, standards and domestic subsidies, and dispute resolution.

Britain has been pushing for annual negotiation for allowing fishing in its territorial waters, and also proposed a “zonal attachment” system which divides fish species between the two sides as per to where the fish reside rather than the current division on the basis of fixed fishing patterns. Where as EU has been fighting against both annual negotiations and zonal attachment for it wants an amount of ‘certainty’ for its fishing community. 

Besides, both the sides have been struggling with how to decide on the future course of their relationship, for they both agreed on the need to “uphold the common high standards at the end of the transition period in the areas of state aid, competition, social and employment standards, environment, climate change and relevant tax matters”. But the matter is still hanging as the two have not found a common ground on how to define their current common high standards.

Brexiters have been wishing for a special trade and security deal with EU but all they believe EU has been offering is a regular trade deal wherein latter has more advantage over the former. Despite all the difference, what EU-Britain needs the most is a common resolution system to decide their disputes.

On Wednesday, while giving a speech in the European Parliament, the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said the EU was open to be “creative” in order to get a deal with the UK but emphasised that an agreement was difficult with “very little time ahead of us”. Barnier would be heading for London on Friday for the last round of negotiations with the UK. 

With regarding to the deal entering its last leg, EU president said, “These are decisive days for negotiations with the United Kingdom. But, frankly, I cannot tell you today if in the end, there will be a deal.”

“We will do all in our power to reach an agreement. We’re ready to be creative,” she said. “But we are not ready to put into question the integrity of the single market, the main safeguard for European prosperity and wealth.”

Von der Leyen said legal texts on judicial and social security coordination, trade in goods and services and transport were almost finalised. “However, there’s still three issues that can make the difference between a deal and no deal,” she added. 

No-Brexit deal concerns rise as transition period nears end
Europe

No-Brexit deal concerns rise as transition period nears end

No Brexit deal: Concerns over a no-Brexit deal increase as talks between EU and UK officials are dragging on 

Officials from both the European Union and the United Kingdom have expressed concerns over finalising a Brexit divorce deal, noting that the coming week is particularly crucial with less than 50 days left for the transition period to end. 

In the coming days, chief negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier will try to bridge their differences as pressure over a Brexit agreement looms on. As talks with the European Union are dragging on, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing increased pressure as he faces a tricky time for his leadership. Amid this crucial week, Johnson is self-isolating at his official residency after coming in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. 

Negotiators from the UK and the EU are gathering in Brussels this week for more talks to find a solution to differences over fishing rights, governance and competition rules in their future deal. A number of informal deadlines for a trade agreement have already passed. Experts suggest that if these differences are not bridged by the end of this year, no trade agreement will be formalised which will eventually result in higher costs for exporters on both sides.

Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost on Sunday took to Twitter, saying that some progress has been made in a positive direction in recent days.

While Brussels officials are asserting that the UK Prime Minister must take the first step in reaching an agreement, their British counterparts are dismissing the stance. According to a report by The Guardian, senior officials have stated that Prime Minister Johnson is determined not to compromise over Britain’s terms for exiting the European Union.

The UK government is also fearing a power struggle after one of Boris Johnson’s closest aides, Lee Cain, announced his resignation as the Director of Communications last week. Dominic Cummings, another high-profile aide of the British PM, also left Downing Street on Saturday amid the power struggle. Both Mr Cummings and Mr Cain have been instrumental to the Brexit outcome as they worked with Johnson in the Vote Leave campaign during the 2016 European Union (EU) referendum.

It has been almost five years since the Brexit referendum campaign began and Britain and the EU negotiators have yet not worked out a deal to operate the nearly $1 billion in trade per year. Meanwhile, Ireland has said that there are around 7-10 days to figure out a way to unlock a trade agreement even as a senior EU official asserted that it may be too late to put a deal into force.

EU, UK fail to reach Brexit breakthrough amid intense talks
Europe

EU, UK fail to reach Brexit breakthrough amid intense talks

Even after intensified negotiations between EU and UK, a Brexit breakthrough is still not in sight.

While trade talks have intensified between Britain and European Union negotiators in Brussels in recent days, a breakthrough in the Brexit deal is still not in sight. As per media reports, the EU and Britain have failed to reach an agreement on some of the most persistent points in the negotiations even after weeks of intensive talks in London. From differences over fisheries and protecting trillions of dollars of the trade from disruption to ensuring fair competition and settling disputes at all fronts, both sides are yet to set basic governance structure to proceed with the trade deal.

“There is some progress being made, but it’s far from concluded yet,” said Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney signaling that time may run out to strike a deal.

Recently, Brussels negotiators dismissed reports claiming that an agreement has been reached between the two sides on the fishing industry, with European officials confirming that the central issue is still open for talks. Brussels has also asserted that no future Brexit trade deal can be agreed upon with the United Kingdom if there is no deal on fishing.

Under the Withdrawal Agreement treaty signed by the UK and the EU in January, Northern Ireland will remain within the ambit of the EU customs union and will follow the bloc’s rules for its agricultural and manufactured goods. This decision was taken to maintain peace between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and to keep the border between the two sides open.

Noting that the clock is ticking, EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and his British counterpart David Frost are engaged in talks to finalize a trade deal such that it can be ratified by the end of this year.

Brexit deal likely by autumn, EU says
Europe

Brexit deal likely by autumn, EU says

European Union leaders will intervene soon in order to bring the Brexit talks to a conclusion by autumn, according to Berlin’s representative in Brussels.

Following the United Kingdom’s statement last week that talks can’t go on forever and needed to be concluded before autumn, Germany’s ambassador to the EU Michael Clauss confirmed that the EU was working towards this. Political intervention was likely and inevitable, and this would be EU’s main focus in September and October along with arriving at a pandemic recovery package for the bloc.

Saying that no real progress has been made so far on the negotiations, he said that Ursula von der Leyen, the European commission president, Charles Michel, the president of the European council, and Boris Johnson would meet this month to take stock. This will help negotiators arrive at a conclusion about whether no-deal planning was necessary. The UK has made it clear that it is not willing to budge from its red lines and it is up to the EU to accept this and arrive at a reasonable compromise.

UK officials are already of the opinion that an autumn deal would be too late as it would not give British business enough time to prepare for the end of transition without the knowledge of what kind of trade agreement has been reached. In the last round of negotiations, there was stalemate across the board in access for European fishing fleets to UK waters, the role of European courts, return for a zero-tariff trade deal, and common environmental, social and labour standards. UK negotiators have been repeatedly calling for EU’s political leaders to intervene to break the stalemate.

EU has been saying that Britain cannot have a full sovereignty and full access to the internal market, but it would have to give away some sovereignty to secure free trade. A compromise would have to be reached with the objective of arriving at a deal at the European Council summit on 15 October. It can’t be much later, according to EU insiders, because it would then need to be ratified by the European parliament which would need some time.

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