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July 20, 2020

What will happen on January 1

The European Commission has produced a very useful guide about all the changes that will happen whether there is a Brexit deal or not. In fact, the deal vs no-deal choice is not the big black-and-white moment of Brexit. That moment occurred last year when the Brexit supporters rallied around Boris Johnson and Remain went for a second referendum. If a deal is agreed, it will be very small.

The most visible change will be border checks for VAT, rules of origin, tariffs, excise duties and regulatory compliance. One of the many things that will change is that certificates or authorisations by UK bodies will no longer be valid in respect of goods, for example vehicle type approval. The Commission cites the example of a UK chemical exporter who will, from next year onward, have to appoint a so-called "only-representative" in the EU to register a substance. All pharmacological testing will have to be carried out physically in the EU. The same goes for marketing. And everybody in the EU who seeks to import chemicals or pharmaceuticals from the UK would have to make sure that they abide by this, too.

Another big change we don't think the UK is prepared for is in transport services. From next year, UK road haulage companies will lose their community licence giving them access to the single market. We understand there are approximate 8000 UK road haulage operators that travel to the EU. From next year the UK will fall under the ECMT mechanism, which guarantees member states a fixed number of 2500 monthly licences. The licences will be distributed by the UK department for transport.

And finally, UK travellers will need a visa if they want to stay in the EU for more than 90 days. And the pet passport will also end.

This list is much longer, and a reminder of what has been lost by the Remain campaign when they rejected Theresa May's compromise that would have kept the UK much more closely aligned to the EU. What's more, the UK does not appear to be ready for many of these changes, which is why they are pushing for a technical extension. The EU will probably also want to smooth things a bit, as not everybody will be prepared. The negotiations might break down, though.

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