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The European Union is warning already stretched businesses that now is the time to start preparing for the ’unavoidable’ and ‘broad and far-reaching consequences’ which will commence as of January 1st 2021 due to Brexit.

In ‘Getting ready for changes - Communication on readiness at the end of the transition period between the European Union and the United Kingdom’, a notice published on July 9th, the European Commission said that:

  • There will be broad and far-reaching consequences for public administrations, businesses and citizens as of 1 January 2021, regardless of the outcome of negotiations. These changes are unavoidable and stakeholders must make sure they are ready for them.
  • The choices made by the United Kingdom’s government on the future relationship and on not extending the transition period mean that these inevitable disruptions will occur as of 1 January 2021 and risk compounding the pressure that businesses are already under due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • It is essential that all stakeholders … ensure their readiness for these broad and far-reaching changes, which will arise under any scenario, regardless of the outcome of negotiations... There is no room for complacency or postponing readiness and adaptation measures in anticipation that an agreement would ensure continuity, because a large number of changes will be inevitable.
  • This Communication in no way seeks to prejudge the outcome of negotiations, nor to examine the possible implications of a failure to reach an agreement on a future partnership. Instead, it aims to highlight the main areas of inevitable change and to facilitate readiness and preparations by citizens, public administrations, businesses and all other stakeholders for these unavoidable disruptions.
  • In particular, businesses should consider revisiting their existing preparedness plans. Although these were drawn up for the risk of the UK’s withdrawal from the Union without a withdrawal agreement – a scenario which did not materialise – part of that work will still be very relevant for the changes at the end of the transition period.
  • This Communication shows that, even in case of the most ambitious future partnership… there will be far-reaching and automatic changes and consequences for citizens, consumers, businesses, public administrations, investors, students and researchers, as of 1 January 2021.
  • [For businesses] failing to take such preparatory measures will increase the negative impact and cost to their operations at the end of the transition period.
  • It is ultimately for businesses and other stakeholders to undertake their own risk assessment and implement their own readiness actions in light of their individual situation, but no one should underestimate the logistical challenges that will occur as of 1 January 2021, in addition to the legal changes described in this Communication.

To assist businesses, the European Commission is reviewing and, where necessary, updating its the over 100 sector-specific stakeholder preparedness notices it published during the Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom.

Read the EC notice.

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