Brexit matter settled!
“It is settled,” Minister Michael Gove, number two of the British government, said last Friday, effectively closing the door to any further discussion on the possibility of an extension to the transition period beyond January 1st, 2021. “This brings clarity and certainty for companies and allows them to prepare,'' he insisted during a television interview. And for sceptics who may still doubt the determination of Boris Johnson’s government, Mr. Frost, Britain’s chief negotiator said to British MEPs: "Even if the EU demands it, we will refuse it."
So, it’s settled, even if the two parties deemed the last rounds of negotiations disappointing and without progress, and there are no less than 700 bilateral agreements to be negotiated before October 31st, given the deadlines for ratification by the United Kingdom and the 27 Member States involved. The working sessions will intensify and become weekly, including in July and from mid-August, in addition to the negotiation cycles initially planned. "We must now make progress on substance," warned Michel Barnier.
“A pragmatic and flexible approach” to Brexit from January 1st, 2021, according to a British government source
As soon as it leaves the European Union on January 1st, the United Kingdom plans to introduce gradual customs controls, so as not to penalise British companies already affected by the coronavirus crisis. A number of stages have been envisaged for the imports of goods from the EU up to July 1st. For the time being, Brussels has not promise reciprocity, and it is still expected that goods exported from the United Kingdom to the EU will be subject to declarations and controls, as is the case for goods imported to the EU from any third country.
In the first half of the year, British companies buying products from the EU (excluding controlled goods such as alcohol and tobacco) will have to keep a record of their imports but will have six months to declare them to customs. They may also benefit from the deferral of any duty payments until the goods are actually declared. Alcohols and tobacco imported from the EU will be subject to controls. Physical controls will also be carried out on high risk live animals and plants, either at destination or in approved places. Safety and Security declarations will not be required at this stage. However in April, for all Products of Animal Origin (POAO) such as meat, pet food, honey, milk or egg products, as well as all for plants and plant products subject to specific regulations, pre-notification and health documentation will be required.
From July, full controls will be introduced for all types of goods imported into the UK. British importing companies will have to make declarations at the point of importation and pay relevant duties and taxes simultaneously. Sanitary and phytosanitary products will be subject to an increase in physical checks and sample-taking by UK Border Control Posts. In addition, full Safety and Security declarations will be mandatory.
The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland: the next step?
A specific committee has been set up to finalise the Protocol on a solution to the situation concerning the future relations between the Republic of Ireland (EU Member State) and Northern Ireland.
This Protocol, which should come into force on January 1st, includes the following sensitive points:
- Establishment of all necessary checks and controls for goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain,
- Application of EU rules on customs and sanitary and phytosanitary protection,
- Presence of European Union representatives in the Northern Ireland territory, in accordance with Article 12 of the Protocol.
Only in these conditions can peace and stability between all communities on the island of Ireland be assured, the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement (10th April 1998) be upheld and the EU Single Market be preserved, according to European Commission Vice President, Maros Sefcovic.
Brexit - Fourth Round: London and Brussels drawn at 0-0
The fourth round of Brexit negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom ended last Friday like the previous three: with a failure.
"There has been no significant progress," said Michel Barnier, after a new round of sterile discussions with the British negotiators. Whether it is on fishing rights, on the question of governance or on the ‘level playing field’, each party remained camped on its positions. However, "on all these points, we ask for nothing other than for the Political Declaration to be respected," Michel Barnier declared.
December 31st is looming and without any compromise, it is the World Trade Organisation rules and its customs duties that will apply, while Boris Johnson continues to refuse to seek an extension of the transition period. "He seems to be incorporating the scenario of a no deal," said Aurélien Antoine, director of the Brexit Observatory. Such a situation means that, if there is no extension of the transition period, an agreement on a legal text must be reached by October 31st at the latest, that is in just under 5 months.
However, everything is still possible since a high-level meeting, agreed in the Political Declaration, to take stock of the negotiations must be planned before the end of June. Nevertheless, Michel Barnier concluded his speech at the end of this fourth round of negotiations by opening a door to the hope for a positive outcome: "... and if we maintain our mutual respect, our serenity and our determination, I have no doubt that, during the summer or at the latest at the beginning of autumn, we will find common ground between the United Kingdom and the European Union. And finally, that we will find an agreement on our partnership for the future."
Post-Brexit agenda update
After two unsuccessful first sessions, in a context weighed down by the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Kingdom and the European Union resumed their negotiations on post-Brexit relations on Monday 11th May.
Crystallisation of quarrels over Northern Ireland issues and fishing rights
Previous talks in late April cast considerable uncertainty over London and Brussels' ability to come to an agreement by the end of the year. "The United Kingdom did not want to make a serious commitment on a number of fundamental points," regretted Michel Barnier, EU's chief negotiator. Negotiators must theoretically decide in June whether or not to extend the transition period and thus allow themselves more time to negotiate. But London still rejects this idea, even if the Coronavirus epidemic has disrupted the calendar of discussions which now take place via videoconference. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned on May 9: "The British government still refuses to extend the deadline (…) If this continues, we will have to face Brexit, in addition to the Coronavirus at the end of the year".
Among the quarrels is the continued existence of an EU delegation office in Belfast, Northern Ireland after the end of the transition period. The UK has formally rejected the idea twice, with British Minister Penny Mordaunt seeing it as a "political and community divide" in the province. Following the last round of talks in April, Mr Barnier stressed that the EU needs "hard evidence that the UK is making progress on new customs agreements".
A third round of negotiations ended on 15 May with British chief negotiator, David Frost and Mr Barnier blaming each other for the deadlock at the heart of the talks.
The United Kingdom is asking nothing more from the EU than a classic free trade agreement, along the lines of that concluded by the EU with Canada, around which several sectoral agreements could then be negotiated. The EU replies that it can only propose an ambitious trade deal to London if it is accompanied by solid additional guarantees in the area of fair competition, the famous "level playing field". In particular, the question of fishing rights remains contentious: the United Kingdom reaffirms its ambition to become an independent coastal state, with annual renegotiations on fishing quotas in its waters, a measure the EU refuses.
Until the next round of negotiations scheduled for June 1, the idea of a hard Brexit lurks, with a return to trade under World Trade Organization (WTO) conditions in 2021!
And meanwhile… the UK is also talking to the US
While post-Brexit trade negotiations with the EU have continued to be bogged down, further talks between the UK and the US began via videoconference in early May with a view to an ‘ambitious’ free trade agreement. More than 100 government officials from across the Atlantic are involved. The first session of negotiations is part of a calendar of meetings held every six weeks, the British government’s goal being to have an agreement signed before the end of the year, in parallel with the post-Brexit pact with the EU.
But on that front, nothing is straight forward either: the congressional and presidential elections to be held in November reduce the chances of reaching consensus in time. In 2018, the United States was the United Kingdom's most important trading partner, accounting for almost 19% of British exports and 11% of its imports.
Boris Johnson’s government wants to reach agreements covering 80% of its foreign trade within 3 years and has chosen to favour the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
A new customs tariff under study
In this context, on Tuesday the United Kingdom presented its new customs tariff, UK Global Tariff (UKGT), for a post Brexit context which will replace the EU’s CET (Common External Tariff). Customs duties will be maintained on a certain number of products from the agricultural, automobile and fishing industries in order to preserve the sectors concerned locally.
The UKGT retains a 10% tax on the importation of cars, but will remove all tariffs below 2%, which should make it simpler and cheaper than the European CET. In addition, customs duties will be eliminated on a wide range of products: 60% of trade would thus enter the United Kingdom duty free from the 1st January 2021, under WTO conditions or via the current preferential access, according to the government.
Border controls for the entry of goods
Still on the customs front, in a letter addressed to the Northern Ireland parliament, Boris Johnson acknowledges that there will need to be customs checks within the Northern Ireland territory for goods coming from Great Britain, after the post-Brexit transition period. These checks will be carried out in the three ports of Belfast, Warrenpoint and Larne.
A sensitive issue. As a principle, the Northern Ireland unionist parties have long refused anything that might appear to be a de facto border within the United Kingdom. Irish nationalists from Sinn Fein, for their part, refused any border between the Republic of Ireland (a member state of the European Union) and the British province of Northern Ireland. However, each year, 450,000 lorries transport goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland to the value of €12.42 billion. Traders in Northern Ireland are claiming formality exemptions for products intended for the local market only. They have evaluated the additional cost of controls at £100 (112 €) per lorry. "A document detailing how the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland will function will be released soon," said a spokesman for Downing Street.
On May 18th, British parliamentarians also adopted post-Brexit immigration reform, which will end the right for workers in the European economic area to immigrate freely to the United Kingdom in 2021. This means workers from the European Union but also from Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. New entry criteria are not yet detailed, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already presented a points system project, which is expected to favour candidates in highly qualified occupations. The Republic of Ireland will be exempt from immigration rules under a free movement agreement which pre-dates the two countries joining the EU in 1973.
CONEX ENSURES YOU OF THE CONTINUITY OF ITS SERVICES
In the context of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, France has entered alert level "Stage 3".
Belgium has also taken exceptional measures on a national level.
This situation has a significant impact on our respective activities.
At Conex, we have already deployed a number of measures since last week aimed at ensuring that our teams continue to be available.
♦ Establishment of travel restrictions on our employees
Faced with this unprecedented situation and the latest official announcements from this weekend, we are further strengthening our actions.
Among the significant new measures, we are removing our telephone reception for the time being.
This does not mean that we no longer provide our service. We are simply favouring communication via email (with your usual contacts) and for all support- or maintenance-related requests, the Helpdesk via conex™ portal remains available to you, as usual.
For any other requests, you can contact us using the CONTACT form that is available to you (on our website?). All requests will be treated in the usual way.
At Conex, we have been using remote meeting technology for some time and have virtualised our working methods internally and with our customers. As a result, very little changes in our relations.
Work remains to be done and thankfully so, because this allows us to clear our minds and continue to advance.
Take care of yourselves and those dear to you.
Brexit in 3 minutes!
3 minutes of video to be unbeatable on the details of how to manage your post Brexit customs procedures.
It couldn’t be explained more rapidly, with more pertinence, more more more… how CONEX, through its CUSTOMS solution, is THE CUSTOMS PARTNER for carriers, declarants and customs brokers.
Your organisational and
customs management project partner
For more than 30 years CONEX has been supporting companies with their customs procedure management through our software solutions and associated services. The group has its headquarters in France, with subsidiaries in Great Britain and Belgium, as well as ED Editions, its sister company specialising in customs training for professionals. The CONEX team is made up of around 60 employees who combine their skills to offer companies the peace of mind of regulatory compliance.
Through this video (in French), discover who we really are and the values that we share with you.
Access and be inspired by their customs projects undertaken with our teams, accessible via a simple click…
3 SUISSES - AGCO - AIR FRANCE - AIRBUS - ALCAN - ALIS INTERNATIONAL - ARC INTERNATIONAL - ARCELOR MITTAL CONSTRUCTION - AREVA - ASTRIUM EADS - AUCHAN LOGISTIQUE NORD - AURILIS GROUP BLANCHE PORTE - BRUNSWICK - CARTIER JOAILLERIE - CASTORAMA - CAT - CATERPILLAR - CELETTE - CHAMPION - CHARLIER - DAHER INT'L - DHL - DECATHLON - ELIOKEM MATERIALS & CONCEPTS - ENTREMONT ALLIANCE - EUROSERUM - ESSILOR INTERNATIONAL - EUROTERMINAL - FIAT - GEODIS - GONDRAND - GRUNDFOS POMPES FRANCE - JF HILLEBRAND FRANCE - HAGER ELECTRO - JOHNSON CONTROLS AUTOMOTIVE ELECTRONICS - KUBOTA EUROPE - LA POSTE - LA REDOUTE - LEROY SOMER MOTEURS - LOGMAT MARTINIQUE AUTOMOBILES - LUBRIZOL - MONIN - MORY - MOTUL - PANALPINA- RENAULT - RIPCURL - SAGEM - SAINT-GOBAIN SEVA - SCHENKER - SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC - SCHNEIDER TRANSPORTS - SCHWEITZER-MAUDIT INTERNATIONAL (SWM) – SOFRASTOCK INT. - TOYOTA - VALEO SYSTEME DE CONTROLE MOTEURS - VOLVO – ZODIAC.
Liste non exhaustive.
Project leader - DEMATERIALISATION
As part of its European and international innovation projects on the subject of data exchange dematerialisation in the field of freight logistics, we are looking for the right person to represent CONEX.
- Type of contract: Permanent contract
- Place: LILLE area
- Language: Fluent English
Reporting to the CEO and R&D Director and working in close collaboration with the International and IT Development services, you will have to:
♦ Model the processes and data flows exchanged between the various players in the chain, using the data standards developed by the UN/CEFACT and WCO using recognised tools
♦ Lead and coordinate a work group both on a conceptual and practical level
♦ Detect and follow up on opportunities for new development projects
♦ Undertake actions to develop our international notoriety
The position will be based in the Lille area of Les Hauts de France, one hour from Brussels, Paris and London.
The position to be filled requires geographic mobility, fluent English, knowledge of Customs and / or international trade, the culture organisations’ digital transformation as well as experience in representing a company in the context of professional associations and / or federations. With proven autonomy, you are able to demonstrate a great capacity for organisation.
RESPONSE TO THE CANDIDATURE
♦ CONEX is the leading French publisher of customs software and EDI communication platform technology. The company has celebrated its 30 years of existence providing solutions and assistance for customs operators, whether they are concerned by transit activities or are import / export companies. We are evolving in the world of dematerialisation and allow our customers to communicate with the networks of European and international customs administrations.
♦ CONEX is 45 collaborators, a subsidiary in Belgium and another in Switzerland, as well as an office in Shanghai.
♦ CONEX is present and represented in all the main international bodies (UN/CEFACT, WCO, EU TAXUD)
♦ CONEX achieves a turnover of 7 million euros for a 1.7-million-euro result. Our portfolio of customers, shippers and forwarders, come from all business sectors concerned by international trade, from SMEs to multinationals: AIRBUS, AIR France, AUCHAN, CARTIER JOAILLERIE, DACHSER, DAHER, DECATHLON, DHL FREIGHT, FEDEX, GEFCO, GEODIS…