The EU trade commissioner has warned European companies that they need to do more to prepare themselves for the jolt of the UK leaving the bloc’s single market, saying businesses risked a “logistical nightmare” if they did not grasp the new reality.
Phil Hogan told the Financial Times that companies and public authorities should “reactivate” contingency plans they developed over recent years for coping with a no-deal Brexit, saying that the British government’s decision to seek a more distant relationship with the EU meant there would inevitably be a big change to trading conditions.
“I am very concerned that there’s not sufficient planning in place presently,” Mr Hogan said in an interview. “The last thing we want to see is a logistical nightmare for our exporters at our ports and airports through not being properly prepared.”
His comments emphasise the limits of what can be achieved for business by the tariff-free, quota-free trade deal that Britain and the EU will seek to negotiate. [...]
Mr Hogan emphasised that Mr Johnson’s decision to rule out any extension of the transition period — a standstill arrangement that keeps the UK temporarily in the EU single market and customs union — meant that there was no time to lose.
“Even with a deal, there is on December 31, January 1, a new trading environment,” he said. “There’s a lot more paperwork and logistical information that’s going to be required now by both sides.”
Contingency planning “should be reactivated by all member states and all stakeholders” that have “very strong” trade ties with Britain, he said, adding that this was “very important on the UK side as well”.
Mr Hogan said that there “has been probably a bit of relaxation in the last couple of months” after EU leaders and Boris Johnson last year reached a deal on Britain’s EU exit treaty and signed a joint political declaration on future relations.
He added he was worried that businesses were “going to run into serious problems unwittingly and in an unplanned way at the end of the year”. [...]
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