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Are you ready for BREXIT?

Countdown until 30 March 2019

 

On 30 March 2019, Britain will leave the European Union. At the moment it is unclear if there will be a transition phase that keeps the British in the Single Market until 31 December 2020. Should an agreement not be reached with a follow-up solution, trade between Great Britain and the EU would take place under WTO rules only.

It is already clear right now that companies need to prepare for changes. There will be a whole range of changes for the worse, especially in relation to the movement of goods. The preparation for Brexit at companies can be extensive – depending, among other things, on the future involvement in Great Britain, the size of the company and the sector. The enclosed checklist is intended to show where companies need to adapt and adjust. We will gradually expand upon and update the topics in the light of the results of the negotiations. For further questions, companies can contact their local chamber of industry and commerce.

Use of the term “Brexit” on this website assumes that Great Britain is leaving the European Single Market – either on 30 March 2019 or on expiry of the transition phase at the end of 2020.

Brexit Checklist

This is how it works: please click through the topics that are relevant to your company and tick wherever suitable. We also recommend clicking on those topics that you have not done yet. At every topic you can add your individual remarks and open questions. When you are done, you can edit your personal checklist as pdf. This document can be helpful when contacting your local chamber of commerce.

 
 
 
Warenverkehr

Movement of goods

After Brexit, the movement of goods with the United Kingdom will proceed as with other third countries. This means that EU customs law as well as national and European export and import rules and regulations will have to be observed. Accordingly, it will be necessary to draw up customs declarations and, where applicable, apply for export/import permits. In addition, customs duties may also apply.
In the event of a free trade agreement between the UK and the EU, it may be possible for reduced rates of duty to be applied. To do this, however, companies will have to work out the preferential origin of goods alongside the relevant rules of origin and apply for or produce corresponding documentary evidence of origin.
On leaving the EU, the United Kingdom could create its own set of rules and regulations on product norms and standards that differ in part from those of the EU-27 (e.g. technical safety / health / hygiene / labelling provisions). Such changes can make fulfilment of the performance obligation between contracting parties substantially more expensive, e.g. through new testing and certification requirements.
Consideration should therefore be given to the following, among other things:

1. Customs formalities

2. Prohibitions and restrictions

3. Customs duties and rules of origin

 
Transport

Transport

After Brexit, the United Kingdom will also lose access to the Single European Sky. In order to be able to continue flying in the EU, new air transport agreements will have to be concluded with the EU for the airline companies. New air transport regulations will also have to be arranged with other third countries. For example, arrangements like the EU Open Sky Agreement with the USA would no longer apply to British airlines.
According to the rules on European cabotage, only those logistics companies based in the European Union are allowed to deliver to other EU countries without additional permits.

4. Air transport

5. Road transport

 
Finanzdienstleistungen und Versicherungen

Financial services and insurance

Financial services

Currently, around 90% of derivatives traded in euros, especially interest rate derivates and currency swaps, are traded in London. After Brexit, for example, the corresponding banks outside the EU will be obliged to provide significantly more equity for risk provision when transactions are settled via clearing houses. The banks having to tie up higher equity amounts will reduce the scope for extending loans while, at the same time, increasing companies’ financing costs.

6. Financial services

A new investment protection agreement can take time

For German investors, Brexit will result in the removal of protection for European investors under EU law. This protection includes the general requirement of non-discrimination, guarantees regarding market access and prohibition of restrictions on the movement of capital and payments. In addition, there is no bilateral investment protection agreement (BIPA) between Germany and the United Kingdom, which usually offers similar guarantees.

7. Investments

Checking insurance contracts

British insurance companies will no longer be subject to Solvency II approval, the European insurance supervisory system, for the provision of services in the European Union on account of losing the so-called "EU Passport" and therefore being considered as third-country insurance companies. The Insurance Mediation Directive and future Insurance Distribution Directive will also cease to apply to them, with the result that they will no longer be able to participate in the so-called notification procedure.

8. Insurance contracts

Alternatives to British auditors

After Brexit, natural persons recognised by the United Kingdom as auditors (auditors from the United Kingdom), will be regarded as third-country auditors and no longer as statutory auditors within the meaning of the Statutory Audit Directive.

9. Auditors from the UK

 
Personal und Bildung / Berufsbildung

Personnel and education / vocational training

The free movement of persons is one of the four fundamental freedoms enshrined in EU law. EU citizens may work in the United Kingdom without a residence permit or work permit. EU citizens residing in the United Kingdom at the time of the formal exit on 30 March 2019 will be entitled to a permanent right of residence as well as rights to health care and social and pension benefits. It has not been clarified whether these rights will also apply to EU citizens who commence work in the UK after that date.
Under the Erasmus+ programme, 41% of VET (vocational education and training) students went to the UK last year. This is followed by Spain much further behind at somewhat more than 10%. England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will no longer qualify as target regions for exchange programmes if an adequate follow-up agreement is not reached after Brexit. The same applies to the Erasmus student exchange programme.

10. Civil rights

 
Verträge

Contracts

In new contracts, companies should take into account that Brexit may have an impact on the current contractual relationship, e.g. due to new customs tariffs or possible currency fluctuations. The parties to the contract can take account of this uncertainty by including certain terms and conditions and termination or contract amendment clauses. Another possibility is to enter into shorter term contracts so that the precise economic effects of Brexit can be estimated promptly and be taken into consideration in new contracts.
How to deal with current contracts is far more difficult. If essential circumstances of the contract change after the event, making performance of the contract unreasonable, the contract can, for example, be adapted in accordance with German law. Whether these conditions would also exist at the time of Brexit coming into effect and in what form the contract adjustment would then take place is, however, uncertain from today’s perspective. In order to avoid disputes, it can therefore be advisable, as a precautionary measure, to add supplementary provisions to existing contracts in order to compensate for the risks of Brexit in the interests of both parties.

11. Checking new and current contracts

 
Gewerbliche Schutzrechte und Zertifizierungen

Industrial property rights and standards

Existing industrial property right may become problematic, particularly EU trademarks and Community designs. Applications for these can no longer be filed for Great Britain after Brexit. For existing EU trademarks and Community designs, the current proposals provide for these to continue be valid as national trademarks or designs for the jurisdiction of Great Britain. After Brexit, national industrial property rights will have to be acquired for protection in Great Britain.
The CE marking provides proof that a product meets the safety, environmental and health requirements specified in various European directives. Only then may the product be brought onto the market in all EU Member States. A large number of companies refrain from self- certification, which is possible in many cases, and have a certificate of conformity issued for them by accredited testing institutes. The involvement of a testing centre for conformity assessment is even mandatory for particularly sensitive product groups, such as medical devices.
After Brexit, British institutes will probably no longer be able to carry out conformity assessments that are valid in the EU.

12. Protection right

13. CE marking

14. Product norms and standards

 
Steuern

Taxes

The European VAT system is largely harmonised within the EU, thus preventing the double taxation of cross-border deliveries and services. After leaving the EU, the United Kingdom will no longer be obliged to apply the common VAT system directive or comply with the maximum and minimum VAT rates and will no longer have any influence on the continued development of the VAT system.
The United Kingdom has a low corporate tax rate of currently 19% (from 1 April 2020: 17%) and a wide network of bilaterally agreed double taxation agreements. The so-called EU Parent-Subsidiary Directive currently facilitates the cross-border payment of distributed profits between affiliated companies. The EU directive states that no withholding tax may be deducted from the paying company and there must not be any minimum taxation for the receiving company.

15. Import turnover tax

16. Income taxes

 
Gesellschaftsrecht

Company law

According to the case law of the European Court of Justice on the freedom of establishment, British companies, such as limited companies (private limited company), with their administrative headquarters in Germany are to be recognised here in Germany. After Brexit or expiry of the transition, such a British limited company would be treated as a partnership. The limited liability then no longer applies.

17. Limited companies

 
REACH

REACH

Chemical substances intended for the single market require registration under the REACH regulations from one metric ton per year. Numerous substance registrations originate from the United Kingdom. Substances imported into the EU from third countries also have to be registered here. Many importers use service providers based in Great Britain for this registration with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). After Brexit, this procedure could no longer be possible. After the exit of the United Kingdom, companies in Germany must therefore pay greater attention to the valid REACH registration of the substances registered there.

18. REACH