Brexit preparedness: Customs authorities in the EU ready and prepared for ‘no-deal’ scenario


The EU regrets, but respects, the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Brexit has never been the EU’s preference. Nor has the EU been in favour of a so-called ‘no-deal’ scenario: the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated between the EU and the UK remains the best possible outcome. That said, the EU has been preparing since December 2017 for a ‘no-deal’, so that disruption can be minimised if such a scenario transpires. As things currently stand, the UK will leave the EU without a deal at midnight on 12 April (i.e. 00:00 13 April). The overall impact of a ‘no-deal’ scenario cannot be mitigated, but preparations continue within Member States, supported by the Commission, and much has already been achieved to ensure that national customs infrastructure and logistics are ready to handle such a scenario. Commission and Member State outreach to businesses in the area of customs and indirect taxation, which are among the main sectors concerned, has also helped EU27 traders dealing with the UK to get ready to comply with customs obligations, if a ‘no-deal’ scenario materialises. Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “The European Commission and the EU-27 did not want Brexit in 2016 and we certainly do not want to see a no-deal Brexit in 2019. Or at all, for that matter. And we still hope this can be avoided. But we are ready to face this challenge should it come to that. In the area of customs and taxation, a no-deal Brexit would mean the immediate re-establishment of customs controls on goods coming from the UK, new customs forms to fill in for companies trading with the UK and the need to collect VAT on goods imported from the UK. Any traders still not aware of what is required should contact their national authorities immediately to ensure that the flow of goods remains as smooth as possible in case of no deal.”A range of material is available for businesses that need to get prepared, including a simple 5-step checklist and a more comprehensive guide to customs which provides a full overview of the steps that need to be taken. A press conference with Commissioner Moscovici will today be live on EbS (+/-12.40 CET) where further details of the EU’s customs preparedness will be presented.