U.K. warns of ‘bumpy’ transition

Freight lorries in queue to enter the port of Dover on the south coast of England, in this file photo.   | Photo Credit: JUSTIN TALLIS

Four days after sealing a free trade agreement with the European Union, the British government warned businesses to get ready for disruptions and “bumpy moments” when the new rules take effect on Thursday night.

Businesses were scrambling on Monday to digest the details and implications of the deal sealed by the EU and the U.K..

EU Ambassadors, meanwhile, gave their unanimous approval on Monday to the Brexit trade deal with the U.K. Germany, which holds the EU presidency, said the decision came during a meeting to assess the Christmas Eve agreement.

“Green light,” said Germany’s spokesman Sebastian Fischer.

The approval had been expected ever since all EU leaders warmly welcomed it. It still needs approval from the EU’s legislature. The U.K’s House of Commons is expected to approve it on Wednesday.

The U.K. left the EU almost a year ago, but remained within the bloc's economic embrace during a transition period that ends on December 31.

The deal will ensure Britain and the 27-nation bloc can continue to trade in goods without tariffs or quotas. That should help protect the £660 billion in annual trade between the two sides, and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that rely on it.

But the end to Britain’s membership in the EU’s vast single market and customs union will still bring inconvenience and new expenses for both individuals and businesses — from the need for tourists to have travel insurance to the millions of new customs declarations that firms will have to fill out.

“Businesses will need to make sure that they’re ready for new customs procedures and we as individuals will need to make sure that our passports are up to date because they need to have at least six months before expiry on them in order to be able to travel abroad,” said Michael Gove, the British Cabinet Minister in charge of Brexit preparations.

“I’m sure there will be bumpy moments but we are there in order to try to do everything we can to smooth the path,” he told the BBC.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 1:40:34 PM |

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