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Legal Flash: EU – UK agreement over Brexit on free trade

By 29/12/2020 No Comments

EU-UK

With the Brexit effective date approaching more rapidly than ever, on Thursday, 24.12.2020, the U.K. finally reached a long-awaited and hoped-for agreement with the E.U. regarding trade, law enforcement and judicial cooperation.

As had already been established, along with the U. K’s official exit from the Union on the 31st of December, an end to the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital with the EU will supervene.

As a result, the EU and the UK will from that date onward form two separate markets, two distinct regulatory and legal spaces. As expected, this could jeopardise the legal status of numerous individuals and businesses operating in both these markets as far as their capacity to continue their trade and their ability to freely and without hindrance travel and establish themselves in the territory of either area.

To all of these parties’ reassurance, the Brexit is officially to take place under the umbrella of a formal agreement, aiming at ensuring a smooth future cooperation in most key areas. While the new EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement will by no means match the level of cooperation that existed while the UK was an EU member, it goes well beyond traditional free trade agreements and provides a solid basis for the future of the respective relationships.

The principal areas of interest included revolve around free, fair & sustainable tradeenvironmental & energy matters cooperation, as well as law enforcement & judicial cooperation. Furthermore, and in order to give maximum legal certainty to businesses, consumers and citizens, there is a dedicated chapter exclusively on governance, clarifying how the agreement will be operated and controlled.

More specifically, the agreement is based on the upholding of common high standards ensuring the protection of labour and social standards, environmental protection, the fight against climate change, including carbon pricing, and tax transparency. These standards and principles are associated with domestic enforcement and dispute settlement mechanisms to ensure businesses from the EU and the UK compete on a level playing field.

In terms of trading goods, businesses will benefit from exceptional trade preferences, having only to prove that their products fulfil all the necessary ‘rules of origin’ requirements. Nonetheless, as the UK has decided to leave the Customs Union, checks will apply to all goods traded, even though zero tariffs and zero quotas on all goods are to be imposed. However, all UK goods entering the EU will still have to meet the EU’s high regulatory standards, including on food and product safety.

On the other hand, and in the sector of services provision, UK service suppliers in the EU will have to comply with host-country rules in each Member State, and will no longer benefit from the country-of-origin principle, mutual recognition (e.g. of professional qualifications), or passporting rights for financial services. Of course, UK service suppliers and investors can also establish themselves in the EU in order to offer services across the Single Market (to learn more about how to establish a company in Greece, you can follow the link https://www.law-services.gr/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/BUSINESS-HANDBOOK_How-to-incorporate-a-Private-Company-in-Greece.pdf).

Last but not least, arrangements have been made to facilitate short-term business trips and temporary secondments of highly-skilled employees. At the same time, customs procedures will be simplified under the Agreement, as both Parties have agreed, e.g. to recognise each other’s programmes for trusted traders (“Authorised Economic Operators”).

At the UK’s request, the Agreement does not cover cooperation on foreign policy, external security and defence, even though this was initially foreseen in the Political Declaration, nor does it cover any decisions relating to equivalences for financial services, possible decisions pertaining to the adequacy of the UK’s data protection regime.

Within the following days and before the 31st of December, the official signing ceremony is to take place, marking the agreement of the free trade deal. Britain’s parliament will meet in an emergency session on December 30 to pass the legislation needed to put the deal into UK law.

The deal will come into force on January 1. However, since the European Parliament will not approve the deal until January, it will be provisionally applied until MEPs sign it off.

The Greek Government, in a proactive spirit, has already moved forward with the amendment of the relevant legal framework, in order to ensure that British citizens and businesses will continue to reap the benefits of residing or being established in Greece and the European Market. Law 4652/2020, already adopted in January 2020, is meant to cover any areas that will not be included in the agreement (you can also visit https://www.law-services.gr/legal-articles-and-media/brexits-ramifications-on-uk-citizens-rights-in-greece/).

At Amoiridis Law Services® we are dedicated at assisting our well-respected clients adapt to the post-Brexit reality. Thanks to our longstanding experience, we are able to provide a full package of consultancy services to our almost exclusively international clientele, customised to their specific needs.

As a result, we have represented clients from all around the globe regarding their projects in Greece. Our network of associate experts, composed by both in-house and external solicitors, notaries, accountants, tax experts, civil engineers, topographers, realtors etc., enables us to provide an all-in-one package of consultancy services, guiding you throughout the entire procedure of transferring your tax residence to Greece and benefiting from the upcoming tax exemption package.

For any further information and clarifications please do not hesitate to contact our qualified legal team, ready to provide you with further personalised information tailored to your needs and your profile.

Athens, December 2020

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