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EU Exit Business Readiness Forum meeting on 7th March

Please find below summary notes from the EU Exit Business Readiness Forum meeting on 7th March.

Panellists

  • Donna Leong, Director of EU Exit Business Intelligence & Readiness, BEIS
  • Syma Cullasy-Aldridge, DEXEU
  • Sarah Mackintosh, BEIS
  • Anthony Miller, BEIS
  • Anna Devin, Department for Enterprise
  • Tim Courtney, BEIS

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) held their sixth EU Exit Business Readiness Forum on Thursday 7th March at BEIS central London offices in Victoria, covering in this session Consumer Protection and Business Mobility in the event of a no-deal Brexit, including information on recognition of qualifications. This was a slight change to the proposed topic of workforce and people although some elements were covered.

The forum was hosted Donna Leong, Director of EU Exit Business Intelligence & Readiness at BEIS with panellists Syma Cullassy-Aldridge (DEXEU), Sarah Mackintosh (BEIS), Anthony Miller (BEIS), Anna Devin (DfE) and Tim Courtney (BEIS).

The Forum, aimed primarily at representative organisations such as trade associations and professional bodies, has 3 main objectives - to share the information UK businesses need to prepare for EU Exit; to provide materials to association bodies to cascade to members; and to respond to and gather feedback on existing and new materials circulated in readiness for the UK’s withdrawal.

Donna Leong welcomed attendees and gave an update on recent actions following feedback from delegates after the first 5 forum sessions. This included making the forum meetings accessible via webex and additional support for SME’s in the form of a series of small business webinars in partnership with the British Library’s Business and IP Centre Network to help businesses understand the potential changes after the UK leaves the EU, how this may affect them and how to prepare.

The webinars will appear on the British Library’s events page and participants will need to register in advance through their website: https://www.bl.uk/events and will include the opportunity for Q&A.


Syma Cullassy-Aldridge – DEXEU Update

Admittedly, there were no significant updates given the planned votes on the 12th, 13th and 14th March in relation to accetance of the deal itself, whether to leave without a deal (indicative), and whether to extend Article 50 respectively.

It was made clear that the PM did not want to extend Article 50. Reference was made to the joint working group on alternative arrangements to the backstop, but when questioned no further clarity on what these arrangements may look like could be given.

Businesses were encouraged to make contact with BEIS and DEXEU in relation to how industry should be consulted on the next steps in the process of agreeing a future relationship with the EU.


Consumer Protection - Sarah Mackintosh - BEIS

Trying to maintain consumer confidence in this time of confusion is a challenge but government is aware of the importance of this and are committed to maintaining the high level of consumer protection that has historically been present within the UK. To this end, UK consumers should not see any immediate differences in the level of protection afforded by UK legislation as both UK and EU legislation is broadly aligned.

There will be no change in relation to responsibilities of UK businesses when selling to UK consumers and consumers can rely on the same level of protection as currently offered. Businesses will still be able to use the Alternative Dispute Resolution process in relation to goods bought and sold within the UK and the obligations around this will not change for UK businesses.

However as UK businesses will not have access to the European Online Dispute Resolution service and reference to this service should be removed from UK websites where mentioned.

When considering UK businesses that sell to EU consumers any continuing obligations are likely to depend on specific Directives (Sale of Goods, General Product Safety etc.) concerned and the relative presence within the EU of that UK business. Whilst currently UK legislation mirrors that in the EU, and in some case exceeds this, the UK may not implement any future changes to the European consumer protection legislation enacted in member states therefore UK businesses are advised to keep up to date on any future changes in member state legislation.

It is worth noting that EU consumers buying goods from the UK can still rely on the ADR process.

Following a specific query raised in relation to direct sales to EU consumers and the potential changes it was confirmed that where a product is sold on-line directly to an EU consumer by a seller who is based in the UK only, it is likely that there will be no change to current rules. Where selling from the UK, but the seller is based in the EU, this may be dependent on where the sale is deemed to have taken place. A further query was raised as to how the “place of sale” could be defined and whether this was dependant on where the order was fulfilled or invoiced. This query was unable to be answered during the session and is expected to be confirmed as part of the Q&A’s that will be circulated.

When considering the sale of goods from the EU to the UK, consumer rights may be impacted in that UK consumers will not be able to seek redress from any EU based traders through the UK courts.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/consumer-rights-if-theres-no-brexit-deal--2/consumer-rights-if-theres-no-brexit-deal

UK/EU Business Mobility - Anthony Miller – BEIS / Anna Devin - DfT

As a member of the EU, under the principle of free movement, European citizens (EU and EEA) can currently travel to the UK visa-free for short periods of time. There is currently no time limit for international students studying and /or working in the UK both during and after study. Students from non-EU/EEA or “third countries” can enter the UK on either a Tier 4 visa for long term study or via a short term study visa.

Should the UK leave the EU without a deal the UK would be viewed as a “third country” and whilst the European Commission has proposed to allow UK citizens to travel to the EU / EEA without a visa this is conditional and requires the UK reciprocate this for citizens of all member states. Accordingly, EU/EEA citizens will still be permitted to enter the UK for work, study or pleasure without a visa for a period of up to 3 months. Those who wish to stay for longer may apply for temporary leave to remain.

In no-deal scenario UK nationals would be able to travel in the EU/EEA visa-free for activities such as business meetings, training, short term study and sports and cultural events for a period of up to 90 days in any 180 day period. This is quite specific and may impact on business travel in the act of providing a service (repair/ installation etc.) and businesses are advised to check any visa or work restrictions with member state authorities individually as requirements may vary for “third country” nationals. Similarly, those travelling for periods of more than 3 months are advised to check with host countries on individual local rules for sector regulation, visa’s etc.

When a query was raised as to what was defined as a “meeting”, for example visiting to repair equipment, the speaker advised that this question had been posed to the commission.

Attendees were advised that BEIS & the Department for International Trade (DIT) have produced a series of country dossiers (Country files) to signpost UK businesses to sources of information by country in anticipation of a more complicated business environment. Country files aim to cover cross border trade & services, mobility & delivery of services, data protection, work, study etc. There are currently published dossiers for 20 of 31 countries in scope & it is estimated that these will be completed in the coming weeks.

https://www.gov.uk/world

https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/news/brexit-preparedness-european-commission-proposes-reciprocal-visa-free-travel-eu-uk-nationals-no-deal-scenario_en


Students

Should the UK leave the EU without a deal there will be changes for those who want to live and study in the UK. Students from the EU arriving in the UK after exit date will be permitted to enter the UK for a period of short term study up to 3 months, however those who are looking to study for more than 3 months (up to 3 years) would be required to apply for temporary leave to remain. Students looking to stay for more than 3 years may require a visa.

Following a recent announcement, EU students and family members beginning a course before or in the 2019/2020 academic year will still be eligible for “home fee” status and undergraduate / postgraduate financial support for the duration of their course providing existing residency requirements are met.

UK nationals in further education in the EU are advised to check the individual immigration requirements of the specific member state in which they studying. Should the UK leave the EU without a deal, UK nationals will be subject to “third country” rules.

It is worth noting that when the new immigration policy takes effect from 2021 all EU students will be treated in the same way as those from non-EU countries. Whilst there will be no limit on the number of international students who enter the UK, those wishing to study will need to show a sufficient level of English, proof of confirmed offer of education and funds to pay for their course.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/766465/The-UKs-future-skills-based-immigration-system-print-ready.pdf

For those who have completed their studies and are searching for work in the UK time will be allocated, according to the level of study undertaken, in order to convert from a study to a work visa. For undergraduate and masters students this period would be up to 6 months from graduation and for PHD students this period would be up to 1 year from graduation. International students (third country) will be given 2 years in which to switch a study visa to a work visa.

A question raised in relation to apprenticeships and how students may be affected in a no-deal scenario was unable to be answered during the session and is expected to be confirmed as part of the Q&A’s that will be circulated.


Recognition of Qualifications - Tim Courtney, BEIS

The current Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ) Directive provides a framework of rules enabling qualifications of EU/EEA nationals to be recognised in a state other than the one in which the qualification was originally obtained. The MRPQ Directive applies in general to regulated professions unless otherwise stated in the Directive itself.

In the event that the UK leaves without a deal the MRPQ Directive will no longer apply to the UK and there will be no system of reciprocal recognition of professional qualifications between the EU/EEA member states and the UK.

Whilst the EU will not allow an automatic right to have qualifications recognised, as the UK will fall under third country rules from day 1, the UK government has committed to maintaining the flow of professionals from the EU and EEA and as such holders of EEA or EU qualifications will maintain the right to have those qualifications recognised. Qualifications which are assessed as being equivalent to EEA/EU qualifications will also be recognised.

It is noted however that a guideline has been issued by the EU to urge member states to continue to recognise qualifications of UK nationals already living and working in EU countries.

For those qualifications that are not deemed to be equivalent, UK or EU/EEA regulators will no longer be obliged to maintain or offer compensation measures, such as an adaptation period, aptitude tests or supervised work experience. Whilst many do plan to continue this it should be noted that regulators are under no obligation to do so.

In relation to Lawyers, this is recognised as a specialised subject with 3 Directives applying current provisions. As of exit day 1, Lawyers already admitted to the UK profession (UK title) will continue to be allowed to practice in the UK. Similarly, those applying for admission to the UK profession will be allowed to progress this application.

For those registered as a Registered European Lawyer, third country provisions will apply from day 1. Whilst there will be a transition period until December 2020 for European Lawyers to transfer to UK title, EEA lawyers may have to re-qualify in order to transfer to UK title within this period.

Swiss Lawyers however will be able to continue to practice both on a permanent or temporary basis on the proviso that they meet conditions set in the UK-Switzerland Separation Agreement.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/providing-services-including-those-of-a-qualified-professional-if-theres-no-brexit-deal/providing-services-including-those-of-a-qualified-professional-if-theres-no-brexit-deal


Providing services to EEA and EFTA countries after EU Exit - Guidance for UK businesses on EU service provision if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.

If the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 with no deal, UK businesses will no longer operate under European Economic Area (EEA) regulations for the cross-border trade of services.

Several additional country guides have been published containing information and links to help businesses navigate the third country regulations in each country.

The updated list can be found at: Providing Services to EEA and EFTA Countries after EU Exit

HMRC have published new guidance for the following:

The Department for Trade have published the following new information:

The government is interested in hearing the feedback of the industry in relation to the information available. Members are invited to forward any queries or feedback they may have to Suzie Radcliffe-Hart sradcliffe-hart@fira.co.uk or info@fira.co.uk

Association members can find further information on preparations for a potential “no-deal” Brexit including links to relevant documents and sources on .Gov/ HMRC platforms, information on importing, exporting and transporting goods, trading goods covered by the “New Approach” framework (CE marking directives), trading timber products and chemicals www.fira.co.uk/news/article/guidance-for-industry-leaving-the-eu-without-a-deal

This document will be updated on a regular basis as information is confirmed and released.

Links to:

EU Exit Business Readiness Forum Slides - 7 March

EU Exit Business Readiness Forum: Summary of Questions & Answers 7th March 2019

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