Business, Freight News, Logistics

UK to stay in EU customs union for now, says Brussels – updated

[ December 15, 2017   //   ]

The UK will continue to participate in the EU Customs Union and the Single Market, said the European Council, in its guidelines for the transition arrangements that will apply after Brexit in March 2019, which were published on 15 December.

The paper said that during the transition, the UK will have to continue to comply with EU trade policy, apply its customs tariff and collect EU customs duties, and to ensure all EU checks are being performed on the border for non-EU countries.

The Council added however that the European Union had taken note of the UK’s stated intention to no longer participate

in the Customs Union and the Single Market after the end of the transition period. The European Council will calibrate its approach to trade and economic cooperation and ensure a balance of rights and obligations to preserve a level playing field, and “avoid upsetting existing relations with other third countries.”

Freight Transport Association deputy chief executive James Hookham said the urgent priority now “is to secure a fast agreement on the transition and implementation period for trading rules” to keep trade flowing after Brexit, and give time to adapt.

He pointed out: “Industry will take time to adjust to the new arrangements for moving trade to and from the EU, and it is beholden on our European colleagues to work with the UK authorities to ensure that our members can continue to move seamlessly across borders to the benefit of all involved.  Logistics contracts are already being negotiated for the post-Brexit period, and all those involved need to make decisions affecting the whole supply chain.  Time is of the essence, to ensure that the movement of goods and services does not grind to a halt with bureaucracy.”

Agreements on a transition and implementation period “need to be comprehensive and watertight”. The should be for long enough to cover the conclusion of a trade agreement and the other deals necessary to ensure that supply chains are not disrupted, he argued.

“As an industry, logistics should only have to adapt to new rules and requirements once; the agreement on transition and the implementation period should preserve the status quo until the end of the transition.  With such a relatively short time before Brexit, it is critical that the EU and UK negotiation teams keep trading considerations ahead of political ambitions.”

Tags: ,