Preparations in the Uk

The UK revenue authority, HMRC, has written to 145,000 VAT-registered businesses detailing transitional simplified procedures (TSP) for importing goods from the EU into the UK, which will come into effect if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, avoiding the need for a full import declaration at the border. Businesses will need to make a customs declaration within their commercial records and subsequently send a supplementary declaration, within a month of the import.

For controlled goods, they must send a simplified frontier declaration before controlled goods are imported into the UK, accompanied by the appropriate licences, and send a supplementary declaration within a month of the import.

It will be possible to defer payment of import duty and VAT until tax returns are filed rather than having to pay when the goods enter the country.

To use this system, which will be available at roll-on, roll-off ports that permit the loading and unloading of goods vehicles, businesses must register via the HMRC web page provided for this purpose, from 7 February.

HMRC has indicated that it will review the policy 3 to 6 months after it’s introduced on 29 March 2019. It will give businesses a 12-month notice period before withdrawing the easements in TSP. This will give businesses enough time to prepare. Meaning the system will operate for at least 15 months after Brexit.

In Spain

The Spanish government is finalising a decree-law that it intends to pass in February with its contingency plans for the UK’s exit from the EU on 29 March.

The decree-law covers matters such as the rights of Spanish citizens resident in the UK and those of British citizens resident in our country, and the situation for businesses operating in the two countries, in particular, related to the banking, aviation (Iberia) and agricultural and food sectors. The idea being that all contingency measures should also apply in the UK by virtue of reciprocity.

Meanwhile, the cabinet has approved a series of public-sector employment measures to reinforce services affected by the UK’s exit from the EU, which entail the reinforcement of 1,735 positions through the approval of a royal decree-law that brings forward part of the public-sector employment recruitment offer for 2019. Of the 1,735 positions, 875 are for public-sector employees or positions at the General Administration of the State, and 860 positions relate to services provided by public companies, mainly AENA and Ports of the State.

The executive has indicated that the most important areas requiring personnel reinforcement are border control, customs, and external sanitary inspection services, both for the import and export of goods. Other affected sectors are passenger security control, immigration offices and assistance for British citizens, as well as promotional activities for the internationalisation of Spanish businesses or Spanish representation activities in the UK.

In Andalusia

Andalusia is the second largest autonomous community in terms of its UK citizen population: over 70,000 citizens born in the United Kingdom have chosen to live in the Andalusia region, with the provinces of Malaga and Almeria being the second and third nationally in terms of registered UK residents. The Central Government representative in Andalusia, Alfonso Rodríguez Gómez de Celis, met formally with the British ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley, and they ratified the “clear commitment on the part of both governments to protect the rights of Andalusian residents in the United Kingdom and those of British residents in Andalusia”.

During the meeting, both Gómez de Celis and Manley issued a “message of calm” to all British residents registered in Spain, as they will “arbitrate the necessary mechanisms to facilitate the registration of any non-registered British citizens” prior to Brexit taking effect, or should the United Kingdom exit the EU without a deal. Both parties also summarised measures to continue working together to establish a uniform and consistent approach across all offices of the National State Administration in Andalusia for the processing of non-registered British citizens. Likewise, Gómez de Celis stated that he was concerned about facilitating the transit of over 10,000 workers who enter Gibraltar each day for work, and the exchange of goods and products. In this respect, Manley highlighted the importance of reinforcing links to guarantee prosperity in the area, particularly in Campo de Gibraltar. The meeting, which was also attended by the Honorary Consul in Seville, Joe Cooper, and the Deputy Government representative in Cadiz, José Antonio Pacheco, highlighted the “historic relationship” between the United Kingdom and Andalusia, ties that should be “kept strong for mutual enrichment” and always committed to “preserving the well-being of British and Andalusians in the defence of workers’ rights in both territories”. Hence they highlighted the importance of cultural and economic exchanges between the Autonomous Andalusian Community and the United Kingdom, with the trading relationship between the two territories exceeding €10m a day. Gómez de Celis underlined the essential work done by the embassies “to grow and generate wealth and employment in their respective countries” and assured that, based on the principle of common interests for the well-being of Brits and Andalusians in this case, the Spanish Government “will always be the best possible ally”. In this sense, he conveyed to Manley that the Delegation of the Andalusian Government “would always be open to dialogue to help resolve any problems within our reach”.

The registration campaigns provide a guarantee for residents to avoid losing the right to medical assistance or pension payments, matters that are of concern to the nearly 60,000 British citizens who live in the province

In Malaga

The President of the Malaga Provincial Council, Francisco Salado, announced the creation of a working group comprised of tourism experts and professionals from Turismo y Planificación Costa del Sol to tackle the new landscape following the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The objective of the group is to extend the work already conducted by Turismo y Planificación Costa del Sol since 2016 when the Brexit Observatory was launched. It analyses monthly trends, argues variations in spending, economic and tourism magnitudes and indicators for the main market for international tourism to the Costa del Sol. “These reports enable us to understand the evolution of this key market for the province of Malaga, so we can plan strategies and take specific action both promotional and at destination”, stated the Council President. Salado also highlighted the work done by local councils with the highest percentages of British residents to respond to the uncertainties presented by Brexit, with information campaigns, registration assistance or information about the future of their pensions, Social Security assistance, in addition to visa and tax obligations that must be met. “These registration campaigns provide a guarantee for residents to avoid losing the right to medical assistance or pension payments, matters that are of concern to the nearly 60,000 British citizens who live in the province”, highlighted the institution’s head.

The President of the Malaga Provincial Council also issued a message of calm, recalling the historic ties between British tourists and the Costa del Sol: “We know that Spain continues to be the top destination for British citizens when they travel abroad and that the British market remains the most important for the Costa del Sol in terms of overnight stays and visitors, taking the top spot in the international market, stated the president of the Malaga Provincial Council. Despite a small drop last year in the British market that was not caused by Brexit, but rather was due to the low-cost policy of other competing Mediterranean destinations, 2,863,016 passengers passed through Malaga-Costa del Sol airport from the United Kingdom and forecasts for this year are positive. Passenger arrivals to Malaga airport are expected to grow by 8.1 percent until May, with growth in the British market pegged at seven percent, constituting an increase of 84.681 places.

And in relation to the European Union?

Two important agreements were published in the Official Journal of the European Union of 19 February: The Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and the Political declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom.

We will analyse these agreements carefully in future posts.