Brexit is scheduled to occur on 29 March 2019. Brexit will have a significant impact on Ireland. Progress has been made in negotiations up to March 2018 and a transition period will apply up until the end of 2020 during which the UK will remain subject to full EEA regulation.
The European Economic Area (EEA) is the area in which the Agreement on the EEA provides for the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital within the European Single Market, including the freedom to choose residence in any country within this area.
Despite the transition period, a considerable amount of uncertainty exists as to the final outcome of Brexit. There are some possibilities however that can be discerned from the recent pronouncements from both parties to the negotiations.
The UK Government has outlined three redline outcomes,
- The UK leaving the single market;
- The UK leaving the custom union; and
- The ending of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in UK law; and
- The end of recognition of UK; and professional qualifications and licenses across the EEA.
If it sticks to these points then it is clear that the UK will not be able to avail of a ‘Norway’ model with regard to the movement of goods and services between the UK and the EEA, and therefore a bespoke free trade agreement will be required (or in the absence of such an agreement being reached, a fall back to World Trade Organisation rules). We expect that this could result in some or all of the following outcomes:
- the possible raising of tariffs on goods exported from the EEA to the UK and vice versa;
- customs border check requirements between the EEA and UK (possibly technology aided);
- separate regulatory regimes applying in the UK and the EEA in a number of areas (even if similar or equivalent standards are maintained).
- the end of financial services passporting rights between the UK and the EU;
- restrictions on the free movement of workers between the UK and the EU.
In an Irish context, a number of businesses could be impacted by Brexit, including:
- Irish businesses who export goods or services to the UK, or who operate businesses in the UK;
- UK businesses who operate businesses in or from Ireland or who are considering using Ireland as their EEA base following Brexit;
- Any businesses who rely on a UK base to serve the EEA needs to consider a new base in the EU27 from which to serve the EEA; and
- Businesses from outside the EEA and the UK who currently use the UK as their EEA base and are considering establishing in Ireland.
All such businesses should start planning for Brexit now if they have not already done so.
See our full Brexit Special Report here