will cause various impact and influence on contractual relationship between business partners from EU und UK. We treat in this chapter both agendas organization and strategy, as we expect questions for all functions and structures of an enterprise.
On 24 December last year, the Brexit deal was presented and celebrated as a Christmas present to the public.
This agreement has been preceded by 11 months of exciting rounds of negotiations between the teams from Europe and the United Kingdom.
- The agreement was adopted and accepted by the British Parliament on 30 December 2020.
- The EU Commission has accepted the agreement with the status of "provisional", but has yet to be read and confirmed by the EU Parliament. There is no deadline for this yet, but it is informally aiming for the end of February - mid-March.
- Since 1 January 2021, the UK has thus officially become a third country for the EU with an agreement that has so far only been in force unilaterally.
On 15 April, the preliminary vote took place in the Trade Committee and the Committee on Foreign Affairs on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The result was 108 for, 1 against, 4 abstentions. This is to be the follow-up to the final vote in the EU Parliament. Due to the current re-consultations on the Northern Ireland Protocol, the date for a parliamentary vote has not yet been officially set. Informal, however, week 15 (26.04. - 29.04.) will be discussed
On 14 April, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) issued an opinion with a recommendation on how the EU Commission should deal with the equivalence agreement with the UK in the future. This opinion is important in that the EU Parliament will have to vote on the ratification of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement in week 17. The proposal is that an equavalenceagreement (including other reservations) should be concluded for 4 years in conjunction with an exit clause. This agreement should be concluded within the Graceperiod until 30.06.2021. However, it is doubtful whether the EU Commission will be able to meet this deadline. If this frustration were to end without an agreement, the UK would move to unrestricted third-state status. This would have a significant negative impact on the exchange of personal data between the EU and the UK. So let us keep our fingers crossed that an agreement will be reached.
Today, 22 April, it was announced by the media that the EU Parliament has scheduled a vote on the TCA on Tuesday 27 April. However, the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol on unilateral postponement of deadlines and possible further amendments is still a cause for concern. Despite all this, however, the deadline agreed with the UK is 30 April.
On 26 April, the EU Parliament announced a press conference for 27 April at 2 p.m., which will explain tomorrow's vote in plenary as the final and decisive step in the parliamentary assent procedure. In addition, a resolution will be adopted to assess all facets of the agreement politically.
On 27 April the EU parliament voted with a large majority in favour of granting its consent to the agreement setting the rules of the future EU-UK relationship. The consent decision was adopted by 660 votes for, five against and 32 abstentions, while the accompanying resolution, setting out Parliament’s evaluation of and expectations from the deal, passed by 578 votes, with 51 against and 68 abstentions. The vote took place on Tuesday, with results announced on Wednesday.
On 29 April the EU Council has adopted a decision on the conclusion of the EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement and the security of information agreement. This is the last step for the EU in the ratification of the agreements. The UK will now be notified of the finalisation of the internal EU procedures. Following this, the agreements and accompanying texts will be published in the Official Journal of the EU before the end of the month. On 1 May 2021, both agreements will enter into force.
On 4 May, we organized a web impulse with the Federal Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (www.bvmw.de) to inform the member companies about the new rules and perspectives of the UK Market. The panel was supplemented by Managing Director von logistic natives and the Sales Director of EuroTunnel. https://www.bvmw.de/themen/aussenwirtschaft/news/8994/brexit-und-die-neuen-regeln-fuer-den-handel-mit-grossbritannien/
On 14 May, the UK issued an update on how to deal with the new VAT regime with the EU. We immediately translated this update into German and the complete version is available here as dowload: Brexit GOVUK Update e-commerce VAT 05-2021
1o. September: Maros Sefcovic gives a speech after a 3-day visit and discussions with stakeholders in Northern Ireland
September 14th: The British government announces that the import controls for agricultural and certain meat products will not be introduced as planned on October 1st, but only from January 1st, 2022 and following. See Northern Ireland Protocol below for details. In this context, an update of the border operating model has been published.
September 16: Lord Frost gives a speech to the House of Lords on post-Brexit status and implementation. It is also about the implementation of the TGRR report. On the basis of this report, the first proposals have been put together since June as to what should be changed by the discontinuation of EU rules.
October 12: Lord Frist gives a speech in Lisbon on the state of the negotiations and the British Government's point of view. It contains strong historical references and continues to herald the activation of Article 16.
October 13: Maros Sefcovic presents an extensive list of technical proposals to facilitate the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. A non-paper with all the details was published for this purpose.
November 8th: Since the submission of the EU proposals for the Northern Ireland Protocol, new rounds of negotiations between the EU and UK have taken place. In the meantime, a new source of conflict has also ignited the fishing rights between France and the UK. In this respect, two lines of negotiation are running in parallel. The NI protocol is more explosive. The UK side has emphasized several times that the EU's proposals are viewed as inadequate. UK would like the European Court of Justice to be removed from the Northern Ireland Protocol as the authority for disputes. However, this is a no-go for the EU. After the last meeting on November 5th, both sides point out how disappointed they are with the other side. What's next now that the new negotiations have stalled again? In the UK, the UN Environment-Climate Conference is taking place in Glasgow. It is speculated that the UK will use the duration of the conference to prepare for the activation of the emergency paragraph 15 of the Withdrawal Agreement. This should take place after the conference. This message can be used as a negotiating tactic to put pressure on the EU and change its position on the European Court of Justice. But that is hardly to be expected. Therefore, preparations are being made on both sides as to how to proceed in the event of Article 15 being activated. It cannot be ruled out that the EU will then, for its part, call the trade agreement into question. After all, the Withdrawl Agreement and the Northern Ireland Protocol are part of the entire Withdrawal Agreement. So are we finally facing a hard Brexit in December?
November 9th: The negotiations continue, but the first press reports suggest that not much is moving. On the other hand, there is speculation about the reaction of the EU if the UK activates Article 16. Will it lead to termination of the exit agreement or will only parts of it be temporarily suspended? It was read that the lever on the equivalence agreement on data protection may be applied and suspended.
November 21: Week after week goes by, the teams are negotiating in Brussels and London, while fishing rights are still being disputed with France. The routine negotiator meeting on Friday to see that no one has moved. Something similar happened a year ago. London never tires of pointing out that the activation of Art. 16 remains up to date. And the EU is sticking to the fact that the Northern Ireland Protocol is non-negotiable, although technical concessions are made time and again. From January onwards, full customs controls are to take place when importing to the UK.
December 3rd: after another week of negotiations, Maros Sefcovic and David Frost met again this week via video. It was sort of predictable that there would be no breakthrough to report. It can still be speculated whether an agreement can be expected before Christmas. What will such an agreement look like? It can only be a question of whether the exit paragraph is activated. This warning is repeatedly emphasized by the UK. On the one hand, you want to keep the negotiations going. On the other hand, the warning should be taken seriously, because the role of the EU Court of Justice is a red line for both sides. The Mittelstandverband published an article from us in the December issue of the members' magazine. Download the excerpt here.
December 17th: after another 2 weeks of negotiations, David Frost and Maros Sefcovic ended the talks for this year and postponed the continuation to the next year. However, David Frost has announced a change to the planned customs controls from January 1st, 2022. These controls are to begin as planned at the borders between the EU and the UK, but not for goods traffic between Northern Ireland and the UK. That means different import procedures depending on the transport route. Almost complete controls at the border between Great Britain and the EU but not for NI-GB movements and no data collection about what moves through NI ... In addition, the EU wants to issue a blank customs check for drug deliveries from Northern Ireland to the UK.
December 18th: The surprise on Saturday evening is perfect. David Frost announces his resignation. The reports from journalists from the UK and Brussels are rolling over the top. However, one can read from the fact that his consistent stance on the position of the European Court of Justice in the Northern Ireland Protocol no longer had enough support in the UK government. In the past week there have been reports in the press that the UK government wants to take a less tough line on the position of the European Court of Justice. With his resignation, speculation began as to who should take on this explosive position. The conviction was expressed on various occasions that negotiations should be returned to the Foreign Office.
December 19: Around noon the official announcement came that David Frost's post would be taken over by the relatively new Foreign Minister Lizz Truss. This immediately got a state secretary on the side to conduct the operative negotiations. In this respect, speculation has arisen that the Foreign Office will be responsible for negotiations with the EU. On the same day, Maros Sefcovic took note of the team change on Twitter and announced his readiness to continue talks with Liz Truss.
December 20th: Lizz Truss announces that she wants to call Maros Sefcovic on Tuesday December 21st. You should be prepared for further surprises. In 2021 there are 11 days left for negotiations. Lizz Truss will want to act quickly, as she is currently given good chances to succeed Boris Johnson.
08 February: the Cabinet in Downing Street is reshuffled. It had been criticised that the Cabinet no longer had any influence on the post-Brexit era. With the departure of Lord Frost, responsibility for negotiations with the EU had been transferred to the Foreign Office. Boris Johnson has therefore created the new post of Minister for Brexit Opportunities, which was filled by the former Leader of The House of Commons Jacob William Rees-Mogg. With his sometimes deliberately old-fashioned British gentleman-like appearance in clothing, language and style, he is regarded as a kind of conservative icon. In the Foreign Office, Liz Truss had commissioned MP Chris Heaton-Harris with the operational design since the conclusion of the Northern Ireland Protocol negotiations at the beginning of January. He moves to the Cabinet as Parliamentary State Secretary and is replaced by James Cleverly as Minister for Europe in the Foreign Office.
Februar 11th: European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and the UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss met on 11 February at Carlton Gardens in London. This was their third in-person meeting. They agreed on the need for progress in their talks in the interest of people in Northern Ireland, to stay in close touch and that officials will continue intensive discussions in the coming days.
April 12: our newsletter #6 on twitter appears with insights on financial and data protection agreements between the EU and the US, as well as perspectives on crypto and nuclear energy in the UK.
May 10: Under pressure from Irish Minister Conor Burns, U.S. Congress senators send a letter to Liz Truss urging her to take a moderate approach to the EU. She is strongly advised not to touch NIP. The circle is once again being squared, as the DUP demands exactly that before entering a government. Hectic communication in the UK suggests that, regardless of US influence, a replacement of the NIP could be imminent. One can only speculate about the EU's reaction. Later that week, Liz Truss announced that he would make a statement in the House of Commons on May 17. Boris Johnson then announces that he plans to visit the parties in Northern Ireland on 16 May.
May 12: Liz Truss and Maros Sefcovic resume talks since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict on the occasion of the election outcome. The UK wants to continue to amend the Northern Ireland Protocol. The EU continues to categorically reject this. The DUP increases the pressure to cancel out the NIP completely.
May 17: Liz Truss delivers a long-awaited speech in the House of Commons and announces a new law to unilaterally modify the NIP. She explicitly says that it should be a new NIP, but it should not be replaced. And it will explicitly invite negotiations with the EU. The EU's opinion is not long in coming. Without going into detail, appropriate steps are announced if the UK wants to change the NIP unilaterally. They express anger, but are ready for further talks.
18 May: Today, the UK Ambassador in Berlin gave an interview to Deutschlandfunk that is worth listening to. ÚK moves between 3 fronts: US wants to see the Good Friday Agreement secured as well as negotiations with the EU. The DUP party wants to see the Northern Ireland protocol replaced before the necessary entry into the Stormont. The EU rejects any change in the NIP, but is ready for negotiations and technical changes. It will be interesting to see what the law that Liz Truss wants to introduce will look like and how the EU will react to this unilateral initiative.
June 1st: You can feel the nervousness. There have been two attempts to form an executive government in Northern Ireland from the DUP and Sinn Fein parties. The DUP adamantly refuses to join the government unless the NIP is substantially amended or repealed. In this respect, the UK government is trapped when it comes to finding a solution for the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol that is approved by the EU. A real dead end. So the tension is rising as to when Liz Truss introduces the announced legislative proposal to amend the NIP. It is speculated that it could happen in the next two weeks of June.
May 23rd: our newsletter #7 is published on twitter with an update on the Northern Ireland Protocol and perspectives on wind energy in the UK.
June 6: Boris Johnson wins a no-confidence vote initiated by 54 Tories by a small but narrow majority. Speculations say that the FCDO under Liz Truss has been working on the Northern Ireland Bill since Monday. It is now expected to be released on Tuesday or Wednesday next week. As a result, it is still uncertain if and when the DUP would enter Northern Ireland's government
10 June: The House of Commons announced that Liz Truss would present the Northern Ireland Protocol Amendment Bill on Monday 13 June. She is said to have worked closely with the ERG (European Research Group in the UK), which also includes David Frost. A statement from Maros Sefcovic is expected on Monday.
05 September: As expected, former Secretary of State Liz Truss was elected leader of the Conservative Party, taking over the position of Prime Minister at the same time. She won with a stable majority of 57% of the vote. On September 6th, the appointment was made by Queen Mary II in Balmoral, as the Queen had retired there for mobility reasons. One may wonder why this could not happen at Windsor. Balmoral is in Scotland, which is known to be aiming for an independence vote. But that's pure speculation.
September 8: Due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the entire administrative situation in the UK has changed until the funeral on September 19. It was almost symbolic that the new PM Liz Truss paid her respects 2 days before the death of the monarch. At the same time as the Queen's death, her son Prince Charles took over and has been King Chalres III since that day. Thus, the United Kingdom got a new Prime Minister and a new King within 2 days. The day of the funeral on 19 September is considered a national holiday.
September 12: Almost unnoticed, Maros Sefcovic of the EU has promised new technical simplifications for border controls at the border Northern Ireland UK in an interview with the Financial Times. However, this was hardly noticed by the UK, especially since the hurdle with the jurisdiction of the ECJ was not mentioned.
This week, the deadline for the UK to comment on the infringement procedure (from 2021), which the EU had reactivated on the occasion of the presentation of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, expires. Brussels is curious to see who from the UK side will enter further talks. However, one will probably have to wait for the week of mourning until after the funeral, especially since the cabinet must primarily deal with the aid programs for the energy crisis.
October 28: Meanwhile, PM Liz Truss resigned on October 25 after a term of only 50 days. During her term of office, she did not prove a lucky hand with the announcement of the "mini-budget". She is succeeded by former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. It is interesting in this context that he has taken over several ministers from their cabinet, including the Foreign and Northern Ireland Minister.
This was received relatively positively by the EU. Today he announced that he will not attend the COP27 summit, but will be represented by ministers. A sign that he gives higher priority to national affairs. In Northern Ireland, the deadline for the formation of the executive government expires tonight. In this case, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris will have to call a general election on 28 October, which would probably take place on 15 December.
09 November: New momentum develops in Northern Ireland. NI Secretary Chris Heaton Harris had the duty to call a new election in Northern Ireland on 28 October, as the executive government from the election in May this year did not materialise. After extensive discussions, he came to the conclusion that no one in Northern Ireland has an interest in an election (let alone the cost). At the same time, new momentum is developing in the EU-UK talks. For the first time, the UK has opened up access to the IT systems of the border points for logistics data between NI and the UK. Thus, the EU now has insight into the movement of goods and the type of goods that are transported. Today, Chris Heaton-Harris announced that the legal basis will be created to postpone the deadline for announcing the new election date to 8 December. In addition, there is the option to postpone the deadline by another 6 weeks. The new latest election date is 13 April 2023. Time has now been gained to continue talks with the EU and the UK and to present the new budget on 7 November. The barriers to an agreement should not be underestimated. The question of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice to settle disputes is just as important as the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which is in the House of Lords. For the (still) new PM Rishi Sunak, as a former finance minister, the top priority is stabilising public finances and overcoming the energy cost crisis, but at the same time he must serve the interests of the ERG within the Tory party. They continue to call for a consistent attitude towards the EU. The UK government needs to strike a balance between the talks with the EU and the requirements of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill. At the same time, he cannot ignore the effects of an intensified dispute with the EU. In addition, the American side would like to see an agreement on the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement on April 10, 2023.
The complex situation with Ireland/Northern Ireland is actually insoluble if, on the one hand, one does not want to establish a border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, but on the other hand Northern Ireland is to continue to participate in the internal market. Nevertheless, a kind of last-minute regulation was created in December to keep the "Good Friday rule" untouched. However, in order to meet the European Union's border requirements, there is now a maritime border between Ireland/Nordirland and the UK.
This means that the existing trade in goods between Ireland/Northern Ireland and the UK requires special border clearance. Due to the very short-term agreement in mid-December, a Grace period was agreed until 31 March. From 1 April, border controls are to enter into force.
In early February, the EU Commission set up an export control system for vaccines from Northern Ireland to the UK by activating an emergency section of the With Drawal Agreement. However, this procedure was deactivated within hours. The UK reacted immediately by calling on the EU to extend the Grace period for several years. The EU flatly rejected this request, citing a violation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. At the moment, the UK has now responded by unilaterally unilaterally deciding to extend it until 2022 and ordering it internally. As a result, the EU has opened another infringement procedure. This approach is similar to the case of the UK Internal Market Bill, which was introduced by the UK in September 2020.
A further consequence is the fact, that the EU Parliament post-phoned the ratification of the Cooperation and Trade Agreement without any further date.
In June the EU Parliament approved a request from the British government to extend the grace period for the meat trade from the UK to Northern Ireland until September 30th. At the beginning of July the British government published more far-reaching "proposals" with the name "command paper" for the revision of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Although these proposals were initially rejected by the EU Commission, existing infringement proceedings have been suspended and new talks will be continued in September.
At the beginning of September, Lord Frost announced in a speech that they would like to continue negotiations with the EU on the command paper. In this context, the UK government intends to announce an indefinite extension of the grace period for trade between Northern Ireland and the UK and imports from the EU to the UK this week. The EU has already replied without mentioning the initiation of infringement proceedings. In diplomatic language, this means that the extension is tacitly accepted for the time being. At the same time, however, one does not want to start new negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol, but rather look for creative solutions for implementation. At the moment it seems as if the UK is shaping the implementation and the EU is approving this in order to avoid conflict.
Press speaking points from press conference by Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič in Belfast, following his two-day visit to Northern Ireland, our key take aways:
- "...If we were to accept the UK's command paper in full, it would amount to a renegotiation of the Protocol. We will not do that."
- "...removing the role of the Court of Justice would mean Northern Ireland no longer has access to the Single Market. That helps nobody."
- "...The EU has demonstrated its goodwill. Earlier this week, we reacted in a cool and calm manner to the UK's statement regarding the continuation of existing grace periods. We did this in order to create a constructive atmosphere for our ongoing discussions."
- "...I do need any political victory, i want to find a solution"
Am 13. September hat der britische Brexit Minister Davod Frost hat das statement von Maros Sefcovic umgehend vor dem Haus of Lords kommentiert und im britischen Magazin (Guardian) ist dazu ein Artikel erschienen:
The row over Brexit and Northern Ireland has escalated after the UK government issued a new warning to the EU that it will not shy away from unilaterally suspending the Northern Ireland protocol agreed by Boris Johnson last year.
David Frost, the Brexit minister, told the House of Lords on Monday night that the EU should take the UK’s proposals to renegotiate part of the protocol “seriously” if it wanted to avoid the protocol collapsing.
He said his July command paper had set out the tests the UK would apply to trigger article 16 of the protocol, which allows either side to suspend the protocol if it is deemed as having a significant impact on everyday life.
“I urge the EU to take this seriously. They would be making a significant mistake if they thought that we were not ready to use article 16 safeguards, if that is our only choice to deal with the situation in front of us. If we are to avoid article 16, there must be a real negotiation between us and the EU.”
The Brexit minister was speaking just days after his Brussels counterpart, Maroš Šefčovič, the joint head of the EU-UK partnership council, told the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) to “dial down the rhetoric” after it threatened to collapse Stormont over the protocol.
After a two-day visit to Northern Ireland, the European Commission vice-president said that a renegotiation of the protocol would merely lead to more instability for businesses and communities.
Lord Frost’s remarks show how badly Šefčovič’s comments were received in Downing Street, and suggest the gulf in thinking between the EU and the UK is widening.
“I was concerned by some of the comments we have heard from commission representatives in recent days which seem to suggest they may be considering this way forward [the take it or leave it approach],” said Frost.
“If so, then with as much seriousness as I can, my Lords, I urge them to think again and consider instead working to reach genuine agreement with us so that we can put in place something that can last. Those negotiations need to begin seriously and they need to begin soon.”
Last week the DUP, which is fighting to hold on to its voter base locally, issued an ultimatum to the EU, saying that it would walk out of the Stormont assembly if there was not a serious rethink on the protocol within weeks.
Days before, the UK announced it was unilaterally extending a grace period for checks on chilled meats including sausages.
Šefčovič told reporters on Friday that the EU had responded calmly and had opted not to launch legal action in order to create space for dialogue.
The GDPR will play a special role in the transfer of personal data between the UK and the EU. Here, too, a kind of transitional period has been agreed.
- Until 30 April, the UK is not considered a third country under the GDPR – data traffic can take place as usual without additional precautions.
- This period may be extended by 2 months until 30 June.
- The condition is that the UK applies the GDPR exactly to the same standards as the EU and informs the EU immediately in the event of changes
- An important criterion will be whether personal data iswidelyde-thaw across borders.
Since March last year, the teams have been working on an adequacy decision confirming an equivalence of both systems. The question is whether this decision will be taken within the next six months. This topic is of great importance and particularly concerns e-commerce. It is still in the question that companies in the respective partner country must appoint a data protection officer. In practice, this is the case when personal data of consumers areexchanged across borders as an essential part of thebusiness. In reality, this would probably amount to opening an office or branch.
On June 1st, the EU Parliament discussed the adequacy decision on data protection in the UK.
And it almost borders on a miracle: 48 hours before the end of the transition period, the EU Commission passed two adequacy decisions on data protection on June 28th.
The agreement is called the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The term free trade was not chosen. While the British side often talks about an FTA, it must be borne in mind that the duty-free movement of goods must be respected and documented. Complex rules have been laid down in the agreement for proof of origin of products, as the EU interprets preferential voting very carefully. This is a challenge for many companies in the UK, which until now have mainly been involved in the common market and are unfamiliar with customs clearance.
Since leaving the single market, the CE mark has not been recognised in the UK. However, anovertimeof one year wasagreed. THE UK has been introducing the "in-house" UKCA for 3 years. This character is now valid. Companies in the EU have time to apply for the UKCA mark this year, as from 1 January 2022 there is an obligation to affix it at least on the documentation. From 2023, it must be directly on the products. Special requirements apply to Northern Ireland with the UKNI mark.
The UK Gov hat announced on 24th of August, that:
- Businesses will have an extra year to start using the UKCA marking, the new product safety marking in the UK
- this applies to all goods where businesses were due to begin using the UKCA marking by the end of this year (2021)
- businesses will have more time to meet their legal obligations given the continued impact of the pandemic, providing clarity and certainty
Further extensions f grace period have been announced. Please visit our special UKCA-Site
For existing trademarks, so-called replacement stamps are automatically awarded in the UK. It should be noted that only new products to be introduced in the UK Trademarks in the UK must be applied for in the FUTURE.
Nothing is changing here at the moment
The agreement stipulates that equivalence agreements must be concluded downstream forindividualsegments. London plays a prominent role in global finance and the stakes are high for the EU as well as for the UK. The assessment is that no place in Europe will currently have the same importance as the financial centre of London. It will therefore depend on political action on the one hand and on the strategies of the stakeholders in institutional finance on the other.