How is Brexit organised between the United Kingdom and the European Union?
In a referendum on 23 June 2016, a majority of 51.9% of British nationals voted in favor of the UK's withdrawal from the European Union (EU). On 29 March 2017, the UK authorities initiated the procedure provided for in Article 50 of the EU Treaty and the negotiations started on 19 June 2017.
Legal framework of the negotiations
These negotiations are taking place in a framework set by guidelines decided by the European Council on 29 April 2017: they establish in particular that the negotiations form a non-breaking whole and that negotiations are conducted on behalf of the 27 member states by a "task force" specifically appointed by the European Commission.
Bilateral negotiations between the United Kingdom and one of the 27 Member States are prohibited and in any case could not enter into the scope of the agreement to be concluded.
The guidelines of the European Council specify that the negotiations take place in two stages:
The first, which sets the terms of withdrawal of the United Kingdom, focuses on issues related to the withdrawal: "exit or withdrawal agreement" dealing in particular with financial matters, the status of residents and the UK border with the Republic of Ireland;
- The second will be dedicated to the negotiation of the future agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom.
Expected term of negotiations
Article 50 of the EU Treaty provides for a period of two years from the date of notification before the end of the automatic application of the Treaties, unless the State and the EU reach an agreement before the end of the two years or, on the contrary, do not reach an agreement and wish to extend the negotiations. In this case, the unanimity of the Heads of State and Government is required in the European Council and the time for negotiations can be extended for a further two years.
At this stage of the negotiations, the UK is expected to leave by 30 March 2019 at the latest.
Where are we in the negotiations?
At this stage, the draft agreement on the withdrawal of the UK contains a number of provisions, including the legal status of international trade operations initiated prior to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU and which will end after its effective exit. The prevailing principle will guarantee the legal certainty of operations and operators.
This draft agreement also contains the provisions on the transitional period, which for the moment has only the status of a political agreement, pending the overall conclusion of this agreement. If it applies, this transitional period, scheduled from 30 March 2019 to 31 December 2020, will see the United Kingdom continue to benefit from the provisions of the EU Single Market and Customs Union. The restoration of customs formalities and controls with the United Kingdom would then be postponed until 1 January 2021.
Interview of Rodolphe Gintz on BFM Business in the "After Business" program [IN FRENCH]
International and business - How will the Brexit negotiations be concluded?
What, you, economic operators, can already anticipate
The question of the future customs relationship is not yet discussed between the European and British negotiators.
However, you can prepare yourself to:
- The restoration of customs formalities, both on imports and exports, between the United Kingdom and the EU Member States once Brexit has been consummated, i.e. no earlier than 30 March 2019. Importers of goods subjected to sanitary / phytosanitary controls should be aware of the restoration, prior to customs clearance, of the controls carried out by the services of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food;
- The reinstatement of documentary checks and controls of goods imported from and exported to the United Kingdom;
- Depending on the goods and the agreements that may be concluded, the payment of duties and taxes, together with possible commercial policy measures.
The French Customs have prepared themselves to better support the changes brought about by Brexit.
The French Customs are obviously not working alone on the subject.
The French Customs thus work within the France team formed around the General Secretariat for EU Affairs. This interministerial structure aggregates the vision of all ministerial departments on Brexit, so that the French Permanent Representation (PR) in Brussels, and within it the French advisor for customs, have elements which enable them to best defend French interests in the negotiations.
The French Customs will, between 2018 and 2020, recruit 700 additional customs officers to support the effects of Brexit.
In the first half of 2018, 95 open recruitments were organised for the benefit of the interregional departments of Ile-de-France, Hauts-de-France, Normandy, Paris-Aéroports and Grand-Est. 25 PACTE recruitments (Career path of the territorial, hospital and state civil service) at the end of the year are completing the process.
A Brexit mission in the French Customs
In order to make the earliest possible identification of future changes for its services as well as for the economic operators it supports internationally, the French Customs have created a Brexit mission which is directly attached to the Director General of the French Customs and Excise.
In direct contact with the local services and with the support of the central services, this mission is in charge of identifying the impacts and, through a constant dialogue, of bringing out the best solutions for the customs services and the international trade economic community (operators, platform managers...).
Accompanying economic operators
Importers and exporters can count on the support of regional economic clusters (RECs) and business consulting units (BCUs) to answer their Brexit questions.
Information / awareness actions have been entrusted to these local structures and training on the fundamentals of customs clearance will be offered as of September 2018.
Companies trading solely with the United Kingdom, with no experience of customs clearance and trade procedures with countries outside the European Union, may:
The French Customs have also created a dedicated e-mail address: email@example.com Which can be used for any Brexit related query.
You can also contact the Infos Douane Service help desk to speak to a customs officer who can answer any general customs questions you may have.