Preparing for a no-deal Brexit

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This morning, the UK Government has begun publishing technical notes on the effect of a no-deal Brexit. These notes are intended to provide guidance to citizens, businesses, public sector bodies and NGOs in the United Kingdom on how to prepare for the possibility of the UK leaving the EU next March without concluding a Withdrawal Agreement.

If a Withdrawal Agreement is reached it will include a transition or implementation period which would, in effect, maintain the status quo until the end of 2020. However, if the UK Government is unable to reach agreement with the EU about issues such as how the Ireland and Northern Ireland border should operate after Brexit, then the UK will leave the EU with no arrangements in place for managing issues such as trade flows entering and leaving the UK and aviation links with the EU.

An article published by Buzzfeed last week provided details of over eighty technical notes to be published by the UK Government with them all expected to be published by the end of September. Today, the Government has published the first 25 of these technical notes.

The first of the technical notes to be published provides guidance on the UK government’s preparations for a no deal scenario and outlines why the technical notes are being published. The other 24 notes outline specific sectoral guidance under the following headings:

• Applying for EU-funded programmes (3)
• Civil nuclear and nuclear research (2)
• Farming (2)
• Importing and Exporting (4)
• Labelling products and making them safe (3)
• Money and tax (2)
• Regulating medicines and medical equipment (5)
• State aid (1)
• Studying in the UK or EU (1)
• Workplace rights (1)

In publishing the first batch of technical notes, Dominic Raab, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU said:

“We have a duty, as a responsible government, to plan for every eventuality. And to do this, we need to have a sensible, responsible and realistic conversation about what a no deal situation really means in practice.
For citizens, for businesses, for public sector bodies and for NGOs, and we need to take some steps now, so that we can avoid and mitigate those risks that arise.
So today, we are publishing the first 25 in a series of technical notices.
They are designed to inform people and businesses in the UK about what they may need to do, if we don’t reach a deal with the EU.
The notices are practical and proportionate.
They prioritise stability for our people, our businesses, and for our country.
They are part of a common sense approach to planning for a no deal Brexit.”.

Answering questions from the press at the launch of the technical notes, Dominic Raab said that, for individuals, there will not be much change at all and that there is not much for them to do. He suggested that it is businesses that will have to make plans.

Whilst the UK Government is only just beginning to reveal its contingency planning in case of a no-deal Brexit, the European Commission has already published 68 preparedness notices providing guidance on the implications of a no-deal Brexit for businesses and people in the EU27.

The Commission’s notices come under the following policy areas

Policy Area
Number of Preparedness Notices
Communications Networks, Content & Technology
Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
Financial Services & Capital Markets Union
Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship & SMEs
Industrial Security
Justice and Consumers
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
Mobility and Transport
Health and Food Safety
European Citizens Initiative
Trade/Taxation and Customs Union

In addition, EU decentralised agencies have published information in relation to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, for example the Community Plant Variety Office, the European Chemicals Agency, the European Medicines Agency and the European Union Intellectual Property Office have all published guidance notes.

The SPICe blog will provide analysis and comparative information on the UK Government’s technical notes over the next month.

Iain McIver, SPICe Research