Four Years Since Brexit: Where are we now?

Brexit in neon lights

It has been four years since the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union. Negotiations are still going, but a quick deal doesn’t seem to be near. Let’s have a look at where we stand currently.

The Mood in the United Kingdom

On the one hand, there is Boris Johnson’s huge electoral victory, suggesting broad support for Brexit in the United Kingdom. On the other hand, there have been clear signals that a very large part of United Kingdom citizens would rather remain in the European Union.

Mercury News reports:

According to the European Social Survey (ESS), a pan-European poll carried out every two years, 56.8% of respondents in the UK indicated that they would vote to remain inside the bloc, an increase from 49.9% the last time the survey was published in 2018. The most recent survey shows that of those questioned in the UK, 34.9% said they would vote to leave and 8.3% said they would not vote at all.

The Mood in the European Union

The same survey indicates strong support for the European Union within the member states of the European Union. It looks like EU citizens have no desire to leave the European Union.

Mercury News reports:

The latest survey of 26 countries, four of which are not member states, reveals an increase in support for EU membership, suggesting that speculation that other countries would quickly follow the UK to exit the union is possibly unfounded.

Of the 19 countries that participated in both the latest and previous ESS, all EU member states saw support for EU membership rise. There was little change in Norway and Switzerland, which are not member states.

The State of Negotiations

At the moment it does not look very good. Negotiations are still stuck and there is not much movement. Representatives of the European Union have expressed worries about the unwillingness of the United Kingdom to have constructive negotiations based on the political declaration that both parties agreed upon last year. The political declaration is supposed to be the scope for the deal currently under negotiation. During the latest round of negotiations, Boris Johnson seemed to be very unwilling to compromise. The result of that could be a no-deal Brexit at the end of this year.

There are still several very large issues that both parties have a hard time agreeing on. A quick overview of the main issues.

Fishing rights: the European Union wants fair access to United Kingdom waters for their fishermen. The United Kingdom response to that is that the UK fishermen voted for Brexit and that their point of view should be respected. That does not go down well with the European Union negotiators.

Dispute resolution: even with a trade deal in place, there will be disputes. Both parties are finding it difficult to agree on how disputes will be resolved in a future trade deal and which would apply.

Level playing field provisions: the European Union wants to have provisions in the trade agreement that both the European Union and the United Kingdom do not undercut each other when it comes to labour and social standards and environmental standards. The European Union is trying to make EU Law the standard to meet, but the United Kingdom is refusing this. They seem to be looking for a minimalist approach, which might suggest plans to undercut the standards in the future.

Getting Ready for Brexit

The threat of a No Deal Brexit is still making it difficult for companies to prepare in an efficient way. What is clear is that there will be customs checks and new import and export procedures for goods moving between the European Union and the United Kingdom. Customs Authorities on both sides are scrambling to hire enough people to handle the increase in the volume of documents that will need to be processed and checks that need to be done.

There are still fears of delays at the border due to lack of staffing, especially on the United Kingdom side. Businesses on both sides still need to prepare for a worst-case scenario. The wait to get clarity on what the new normal will be after Brexit has been a long one and it looks like it may still take a while.

Customs Support is Ready

Customs Support is ready for any outcome of the Trade Agreement negotiations. Our offices are staffed with trained and experienced people. If you have any questions on importing or exporting goods contact one of our experts. To stay up to date on Brexit you can follow our Brexit Support page and our Company LinkedIn page. We will keep you posted on developments that may impact your trade flow.