Brexit: updated information for companies

After some 40 months of negotiations, the Presidents of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, and of the European Council, Charles Michel, signed on 24 January the “Brexit” agreement formalising the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

The agreement was approved by the European Parliament on Wednesday 29 January, followed by ratification by the Council of the EU by written procedure.

The “Brexit” took place at 23.00 on 31 January 2020.

As a measure to strengthen EU representation in a future third country, the European Union appointed the Portuguese João Vale de Almeida as the first diplomat of the EU delegation in London.

The European Commission has released a presentation/summary summarising the main aspects of the UK Exit Agreement, from this document we highlight:

  • With a view to ensuring a transition process that avoids disruptions for businesses and citizens to the greatest extent possible, the Exit Agreement provides for a transition period until 31 December 2020 after the formal termination of the UK from the EU on 31 January. During this period, EU legislation continues to apply in the United Kingdom as well.
  • This means that all previously existing European rules and procedures will remain in force throughout 2020, and there will be no practical changes to the present status-quo (apart from UK participation in EU institutions) for EU/28 companies and citizens. The aim of this derogation is to allow a transition process for public administrations, businesses and citizens to adapt to the new reality post 2020.
  • During this period, bilateral negotiations will take place between the EU and the UK to establish a Bilateral EU-UK Agreement which will establish the future overall institutional framework between the two sides from 1 January 2021, creating a new paradigm for the bilateral relationship and replacing all previous agreements.
  • In the event that no agreement is reached on 31 December 2020, the transition period may be extended once for a period of between one and two years.

Country case example: Portugal

In view of the importance of the UK as an issuing tourism market, several measures have been implemented by Portugal to minimise the impact on UK citizens’ travel to Portugal. These include the extension of the number of e-gates at airports or the recent creation of Portugal Health Passport.

To boost the image of Portugal among British tourists and operators, Turismo de Portugal has developed a special campaign – “Portugal will never leave you” – #Brelcome.

As part of the campaign #Brelcome – Portugal Will Never Leave You the Tourism of Portugal and the Health Cluster, launched Portugal Health Passport, a new platform that brings together all the private medical services available to British tourists during their visit to the country.

As a means of supporting companies with exposure to the UK market and which prove financing needs (investment or working capital), a Credit Line to Support Companies with Brexit Exposure was available, with an overall budget of 50 million euros.

For support and information to tourism companies, Turismo de Portugal has created in the Business Portal an area exclusively dedicated to Brexit with selected information relevant to tourism.

At Visitportugal.com an information area dedicated to British tourists was also created.

Within the scope of Portugal 2020, the application period under call for tenders No. 01/SI/2020 – SI Qualification and Internationalisation of SMEs, for companies wishing to develop projects in the Brexit Priority area: Market Diversification, ran until 27 April 2020.

The Directorate General for Economic Activities (DGAE) also provides an area dedicated to Brexit, as well as a specific “Frequently Asked Questions” page for companies.

It should be noted that Portugal approved on 17 January 2019 the Preparation and Contingency Plan for a UK exit from the European Union, including measures for tourism, if the exit was without agreement.