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European Union offers 21 month transition deal for free trade after Brexit

By Dan Wilson January 30, 2018 - 10:41 am

The European Union has offered the UK an ultimate date of divorce on December 31st 2020. The idea is that it gives extra time to hammer out all the various and complex concerns surrounding Brexit once the two year Article 50 period of two years expires on March 29th 2019.

But the offer doesn’t come without conditions. During the 21 month transition phase the UK will be required to abide by all existing EU laws and also comply with new rules passed during that time. Financial contributions will still be payable but UK representatives will not have any voting rights at all in the decision making processes. The British right to veto will also be suspended during transition after the 29th March next year.

However, the UK will have the chance to express views in EU meetings where national interests are at stake. Specifically, input will be allowed on issues of immediate economic impact, such as EU fishing quotas, but that will just be a right to speak, it seems. Many Brexit advocates have condemned this offer which took just two minutes for ministers from the 27 other member states to endorse when proposed by EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

But let us concern ourselves with practicalities related to marketplace selling and European ecommerce. And it doesn’t really matter whether you are pro Brexit or not. It’s happening. What is urgently needed though is clarity on the terms. This transition deal offer from the European Union has the great merit of providing certainty that the single market and the free movement of goods will persist for just shy of 3 more years. That gives you an opportunity to plan ahead in the short term because nothing will change when it comes to trading with the bloc.

There is also a real benefit in establishing clear terms swiftly from a financial perspective. Sterling continues to be battered against the Euro on the currency markets and, whilst that does offer some benefits to merchants trading overseas, it does also present problems and expense. On balance, stronger sterling is probably better news for marketplace sellers.

But it seems that the UK government will be rejecting this offer. Do you think that’s the right approach?

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