Bracing for Brexit

Deal or no deal

The Corona pandemic has occupied centre stage for the past half year, but as summer draws to a close an event with epic implications is looming. The end of 2020 will bring the expiry of the Brexit transition period. On 1 July, the British government had the option of extending the transition period planned to last for 11 months. Boris Johnson however chose not to do so. Since Brexit finally officially occurred on 31 January, as a translation agency so far little has changed for us or generally for other businesses. Politically, Britain has lost its representation at the official EU meetings and is no longer a member of the block’s institutions. Once the transition period lapses at the end of this year, without a deal, World Trade Organization terms will be applied to all trade between the UK and all EU countries, resulting in the application of tariffs and taxes on goods.

Barnier: deal unlikely

The deadline of 26 November for agreeing a new trade deal is fast approaching and little progress has been made on coming to any agreement. The recent seventh round of talks on the trade agreement held last week were not very productive according to Michael Barnier, chief negotiator for the EU, who openly voiced his disappointment at the current state of affairs. He rated the chances of a deal being struck between the UK and the EU as unlikely.

Negotiating fishing rights has proven to be a fiasco and constitutes a stumbling block on the route to securing a free trade deal. An agreement on fishing is a red line for the EU which basically wants the same access to British waters as there is now whereas the UK insists that ‘British fishing grounds are first and foremost for British boats’. There are of course other problem areas. The British want for UK hauliers to retain the single market benefits but are not prepared to pay or abide by EU rules to attain this.

Right to live in Germany

Contingency plans which were scrambled into place in the event of a no deal scenario could may well become a reality. On 31 July, the German Government approved the ‘Brexit Residence Transition Act’ which will enter into force if there is no deal. In line with this new legislation British citizens living in Germany are given a nine month period of grace. During this period, they can retain their rights to live and work in Germany as long as they apply for a residence permit during the nine months.

British nationals returning to the UK will be able to bring non-British children, spouses, partners, parents and grandparents with them to apply for settled status before 29 March 2022 irrespective of whether a deal is reached. It remains to be seen if the negotiators can overcome the obstacles preventing the new trade agreement at the next round of negotiations set for 7 September in London. Belgium has now been added to the UK quarantine list but exceptions are to be made for Barnier and his team. In the next few blog entries, the implications of Brexit for specific countries will be examined starting with Germany, Belgium and France.

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