Following four years of intensive negotiations, the UK and the EU reached an agreement (the “Agreement”) to define the conditions for future mutual relations.
On 1st January 2021, the United Kingdom will no longer be part of the EU’s single market and customs union, thereby ceasing its participation in all EU policies and international agreements it has concluded.
Among other things, the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital between the UK and the EU will end as they will constitute two separate markets and two separate economic spaces.
The Agreement with the United Kingdom covers not only trade in goods and services but also other areas of Union interest, such as investment, competition, State aid, tax transparency, air and road transport, energy and sustainability, fisheries, data protection and social security coordination.
As regards goods, the Agreement provides for the cancellation of customs tariffs and the cancellation of quotas on all goods complying with the appropriate rules of origin.
The model of the Agreement seems to be in line with the latest generation model concluded by the EU and, therefore, presumably similar to those in place with Canada and Japan.
In this regard, the Agreement provides that the preferential origin of the goods must be attested by means of a special declaration, to be issued on the invoice or any other document describing the product having EU preferential origin in sufficient detail to allow the identification of that product.
The probative system identified by the Agreement allows companies to self-declare the origin of the goods and provides that they can take into account not only the original materials used, but also whether the substantial processing took place in the United Kingdom or the European Union.
The rules of origin are contained on pages 27 to 41 of the Agreement and in annexes “ANNEX ORIGIN” 1 to 6.
The rules for issuing the certificate, valid for a period of 12 months from the date of issue, provide that the certificate:
- shall be completed by the exporter of the good on the basis of information showing that the product originates;
- may be drawn up on invoice or on any other document describing the original product in detail so as to enable it to be identified;
- may refer to a single supply or multiple supplies;
- can be rendered in the languages of all EU countries.
In addition, mutual recognition of the AEO qualification has been provided for.
The withdrawal agreement remains in force and protects, among other things, the rights of citizens of the European Union and those of the United Kingdom, the financial interests of the Union and, crucially, peace and stability on the island of Ireland.
The entry into force and implementation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement is of particular urgency.
As the negotiations were concluded only shortly before the end of the transition period, the European Commission proposes to apply it provisionally for a limited period, until 28th February 2021.
The approval process involves several steps: approval will be the responsibility of the European Parliament while the Council will have the task of ratifying it.
WTS R&A is available to assist its clients in all operations to and from the United Kingdom and in the analysis and application of the various profiles of the Agreement relating to trade in goods.