Although the EU-UK trade agreement has been concluded, it has become clear that there are still many issues to resolve and many areas left for the UK and EU to discuss further. At Instinctif Partners we will continue to track the evolving EU-UK relationship and monitor major changes in regulations the UK or the EU may adopt post-Brexit on a weekly basis.
EU-UK Future Relationship Updates
Time is running out for an extension
• Questions remain about whether the UK will request an extension to grace periods which delay new checks on food, parcels, horticultural products and pets between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
• The current grace period is due to expire on 1 October and has been extended twice already; firstly, in March, when the UK unilaterally extended it, and more recently in June, when the UK formally requested an extension to the chilled meats grace period, which was granted by the EU.
• The UK has not yet made a formal request for a further extension, but in its July proposals it said a “standstill” period was needed, including the continuation of existing grace periods.
• The Centre for European Reform, a think tank, predicts that there will be a continuation of grace periods, however questions remain around the process, including whether it will be agreed with the EU formally, potentially setting a more positive cooperative tone for future negotiations on the Protocol, or whether the UK will seek to act unilaterally, extending the grace period against the EU’s wishes.
• Recently, the EU have been seen to be setting a more collaborative tone, with Taoiseach Micheál Martin outlining how the EU is “ready to respond” to the challenges around the Northern Ireland protocol. Martin said, “with the right political will, I believe that it will be possible to find sensible solutions to some of the outstanding issues, within the framework of the protocol.”
• As both UK Parliament and the European Commission return to business after summer recess, the issue of the upcoming grace period deadline will be one of the first issues to discuss during wider negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Ongoing challenges with supply chains
• Supply chains in the UK are facing growing problems and delays, largely due to a significant HGV driver shortage, causing major concern in the retail, logistics, service, and other industries.
• This has been, in part, due to the large outflux of immigrant employees due to the pandemic and the post-Brexit visa requirements for foreign workers, as well as port closures in Asia. The problem is also acute in European countries, with an estimated shortage of 400,000 lorry drivers in Europe, in addition to an estimated shortfall of 100,000 drivers in the UK.
• Major employers in the UK report that they are experiencing supply problems which are causing delays in receiving products; this week JD Wetherspoon (a UK pub chain) reported that supply problems have caused their pubs to run short on some products.
• Last weekend, leading employers and industry leaders urged the UK government to increase funding for retraining workers and to ease visa requirements for EU foreign workers. In response, the UK government rejected the calls, and said it did not expect the new visa rules to change.
• Previously, the EU decided that the UK’s current rules allow the continued flow of personal data from the EU and EEA states to the UK.
• Following the UK Government’s announcement of proposed reforms to its future data laws however, the European Commission has warned that it will sever its data-sharing agreement with the UK if attempts to rewrite internet laws are deemed to pose a threat to EU citizens’ privacy.
• Among the proposed changes in UK regulation will be the removal of cookie pop-ups that inform internet users that they are being tracked online, as well as a push for the loosening of rules that apply to personal data use by UK small businesses and charities.
Other EU-UK Relationship News
• Thousands of British modern-language students seeking visas to temporarily study or participate in internships in EU countries have reported facing bureaucratic and financial obstacles in the wake of Brexit, putting their plans at risk.
• The UK asked Spain to create a fast-track process, but it refused. One English student reported paying €816 for her Spanish visa application.
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