The Border in the Case of a No Deal - Report
On the snowy Brussels morning that followed the Commons voting on Withdrawal Agreement amendments, the chamber’s Future Relations Committee (FRC) hosted an event on ‘The Border in the case of a No Deal’. The panel featured expert speakers from our FRC, Morten Petersen, EPPA and FRC Co-Chair, Paul Verrips, Customs Connect and Jaymeen Patel, LVMH.
The preceding evening parliamentary session in Westminster saw seven amendments voted on, with several senior MPs and the Labour leader seeing their proposed amendments voted down, which included one to delay the UK’s withdrawal date to December. However, two amendments were passed. Dame Caroline Spelman and Jack Dromey’s joint amendment, which was non-binding, sought the prevention of a no-deal Brexit without a Withdrawal Agreement and (the more significant) Brady amendment that means the British PM must come back to Brussels in order to try and seek ‘alternative arrangements’ to the Irish backstop.
Despite the UK Parliament finding something it might vote in favour of (May’s deal with an alternative arrangement to the backstop), the EU is holding firm, as Donald Tusk stated “The backstop is part of the Withdrawal Agreement, and the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for renegotiation”.
Our members were able to receive a lot of valuable information during the discussion, including some of the most important details regarding the border and customs, such as the shortage of customs specialists across the EU. In the UK alone, there are up to 250,000 companies that only trade within the EU. Each one of these companies will need to consult a customs specialist in order to ensure they have the right certification when the UK begins to trade with the EU from the outside. However, a key issue lies with the amount of customs experts that exist, as it takes up to 3 years to become a fully trained and operational customs specialist. With the UK only triggering Article 50 less than two years ago, it clearly won’t be prepared for this. In addition, this will not just be a UK problem, as each member state will be in need of customs assistance.
There was also a heavy discussion around where customs checks will take place. In a no deal scenario, it is hard to see how this will not be done at the border. However, there will be immense pressure for goods to flow so that trading doesn’t stop, and this will be particularly true if there are livestock or products that have expiration dates. Although, if goods are passed through without the correct checks, it significantly increases the chances of counterfeits moving into the EU.
Following the event, FoodDrinkEurope’s Eoin Keane gave us his thoughts of the event, stating “Today's meeting on "The Border in the case of a no-deal" offered the opportunity to learn more about this complex issue in discussions with experts, which was appreciated. It was also useful for us to present some of the outstanding issues and queries we have, and open channels of communication with other stakeholders in an informal setting."
Head of Brussels office | LVMH Publica
Jaymeen Patel is head of the Brussels Office of LVMH's Corporate Affairs team, and joined the Group in September 2016. Previously, Jaymeen has worked for Apple, Telefonica, and for the UK employers' federation the CBI, and started his career in the European Parliament. Jaymeen holds a degree in German and Italian from Oxford University.
Director Nordics & EU Affairs | Customs Connect
Paul Verrips is an international trade and customs adviser currently living in Brussels and Stockholm. Paul has extensive experience in the areas of trade, customs, supply chain, finance and public affairs. He has held management positions in several multinationals in the chemical, software, real estate, and sports industry. Paul has been the Chair of several international organisations such as the Trade and Customs Committee of the American Chamber to the European Union (Europe), the Trade Committee of the Tax Executives Institute (U.S.A.) ,the Single European Authorisation Group (Europe) and the Cross Border Research Association (Supply Chain Security, Switzerland). A co-author of several acclaimed studies on international trade, Paul has been a lecturer on international trade at the HEC University of Lausanne (Switzerland) as well as at the Swedish International Development Agency (Sweden). He has worked and lived in Europe, USA and Asia. Paul joined Customs Connect in October 2016 as their Director Nordics and EU Affairs .
Morten is an experienced EU Public Policy Consultant specialised in trade policy, with special focus on trade remedy, trade negotiations, customs and other market access related issues. UK’s decision to leave the EU has caught his special attention having accumulated substantial experience and developed a significant Brexit relevant public policy network on both sides. Prior to joining EPPA Morten acquired solid experience for more than 15 years in higher management positions working for European and International companies in industry, services and FMCG sectors. He also worked over five years for the European Commission notably on trade regulatory instruments such as anti-dumping and State aid. Since 2012 Morten has focused on helping clients managing alignment between business, European Union institutions and governments focusing on creating a lasting constructive dialogue with policy-makers. In his trade regulatory practice his focus on Trade Defence Instruments such as Anti-dumping and Anti-subsidy lead him to advice and represent interested parties before the European Commission and Member States. Morten also advice on trade negotiations and is a lead Brexit advisor and Chair of the Future Relations Committee at the British Chamber of Commerce to the EU. Morten has extensive experience in EU Policy at political and technical level supporting stakeholders in their dialogue with policy makers, legislators and regulators throughout the three European Institutions and in Member State capitals. Prior to establishing EBA, Morten acquired solid experience for more than 15 years in higher management positions working for European and International companies in industry, services and FMCG sectors. He also worked over five years for the European Commission notably on trade regulatory instruments such as Anti-dumping, and competition state aid issues. During the cause of his career, Morten worked in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, France and Belgium. He is fluent in Danish, English, French and Swedish, comfortable in German and Italian. Morten took his degree in International Business Economics at Copenhagen University.