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Philip Costigan

Philip Costigan

Partner - Commercial Property

Click here to view Philip’s profile

If you have had the television news on over Christmas, you will probably have had quite enough of Brexit for the time being. However, throughout the Brexit process, we have tried to keep our clients informed on our website of the key factors which are likely to affect them. We haven’t posted much recently for the very good reason that we have wanted to keep well out of the politics of the issue and only comment on factual certainties, and those certainties have been in short supply since the UK ceased to be  a member of the EU some 12 months ago and entered the transitional period, during which time the UK and the EU have been negotiating the Trade Agreement which was finally settled on Christmas Eve.

As more detail becomes clearer, we will keep you updated, but the following is a very brief overview of the effect of the Trade Agreement–

  • Trade – there will be no tariffs or quotas on goods traded either way between the UK and the EU, but there will be what are sometimes referred to as non-tariff barriers in the form of customs declarations, inspections and safety checks. It remains to be seen how intrusive and burdensome these will prove to be, but the UK now only has tariff and quota free access to the Single Market, it is no longer a member of the Single Market, so it will be important to any business exporting into the Single Market (or importing from the Single Market) to make sure it has the necessary paperwork in order (just as would be the case when dealing with any other independent country such as the USA or China).
  • Services – the Trade Agreement only extends to goods, not services, so businesses offering services (eg banking, accounting) will lose automatic access to EU markets, and there will no longer be automatic recognition within the Single Market of  professional qualifications such as doctors, architects, accountants, etc.
  • Travel – the right to free movement within the Single Market will no longer apply, so to travel into an EU member State, it will be necessary to have at least 6 months validity on one’s passport, and a visa will be required if the intended duration of the visit is more than 90 days.
  • Fishing – as was always expected, this proved to be a very difficult area of negotiation. In essence, the amount of fish that EU States can take from UK waters will reduce gradually over a 5 and a half year period, after which the issue can be looked at again and the UK could choose to exclude EU States from its waters, but the EU in return would be able to ban UK fish sales within the EU, so no doubt in a few years time this issue will become live again.

Other issues covered by the Trade Agreement include security co-operation, data and education (with the ending of the Erasmus project).

This is a very brief overview of the effect of the recent Trade Agreement. In another article, we will look at the whole outcome, and examine how the Trade Agreement fits in with the 2019 Withdrawal Agreement, and where this leaves the UK now in terms of existing legislation which derived from our previous EU membership (in a nutshell, previous legislation remains in place as part of UK law, unless it is expressly rescinded). For further information, please contact us and ask to speak with any member of our Brexit team. – Philip Costigan, Sean Byrne or Jon Wilby.