This week is likely to see Theresa May make a third attempt to get her much-maligned withdrawal deal through Parliament. The British Prime Minister’s agreement has suffered two previous defeats in the House of Commons, but May will try to galvanise MPs and persuade them to vote for the only deal on the table.
May’s primary argument is that her deal minimises the economic damage caused by Brexit, with a no-deal alternative expected to shave up to 8% of the UK’s GDP. Even an orderly exit will cause short-term economic disruption, however, meaning that entrepreneurs will need to make urgent preparations for Brexit as March 29th approaches.
In this post, we’ll focus on how to secure your freedom of movement as a business-owner and protect your interests once the UK has left the EU.
An Overview of how Brexit will Impact on Businesses
There are some industries that are likely to be extremely adversely affected by Brexit, including medical research and agriculture.
This is especially true in the event of a no-deal Brexit, which will see tariffs of up to 40% applied to lamb and beef exports under WTO terms.
Companies that specialise in the import and export of goods and services to and from EU member states will also be affected, with significant changes to VAT payments and tariffs expected post-Brexit. Some imports may also be subject to custom and excise duties, which will in turn impact on manufacturers that import raw materials into the UK.
For entrepreneurs who travel to or work regularly in Europe as part of their commercial projects, the restrictions imposed on freedom of movement could also prove damaging post-Brexit. On a similar note, the 1.22 million Brits who live and work within the EU (and the 2.9 million European expats who reside in the UK) may also have their rights and undermined after March 29th, and this is causing huge uncertainty throughout the single bloc.
While the UK could conceivably apply to join the European Economic Area (EEA) and retain access to the single market (in the same way that Norway does), this would require Britain to retain freedom of movement and undermine the core message of the leave campaign.
How to Organise yourself as a Business Person or Entrepreneur post-Brexit
If you’re a business person or entrepreneur who works extensively in EU member states while retaining a base in the UK, you’ll need to adopt a proactive approach to safeguarding your interests.
This is particularly true if you’re currently residing in a host country or member state within the EU, as you’ll need to understand the complexities of Brexit (whatever form it may take) and how they’re likely to impact on your freedom of movement.
To achieve this, we’d recommend working alongside a competent and experienced legal team that is well-versed in the issue of Brexit. By partnering with knowledgeable immigration lawyers of this type, you can create a viable plan of action that enables you to maintain your firm’s bottom line in the near-term.
In terms of travelling to Europe from the UK, you’ll need to pay a fee to visit an EU member state, either immediately after March 29th in the event of a no-deal or from 2021 if Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement passes the scrutiny of Parliament.
This will only apply to stays longer than 180 days, however, as the European Council has confirmed that UK citizens residing within the Schengen area will be eligible for visa-free travel during shorter trips.