Despite the UK Government softening its position on the Northern Ireland Protocol and signalling an intention to reopen talks over a trade deal with the EU, both sides remain at odds, seemingly unwilling to grant concessions in key areas.
While we await the outcome of fresh talks, ultimately, both sides are effectively gambling by leaving the big issues open until now, and with both consumed with a resurgence in COVID-19, it’s not conducive to the conditions needed for finding a deal in short order.
While it remains unclear exactly what it will look like, change is inevitable, regardless of the final Brexit outcome. With limited time to prepare, organisations should be asking themselves the following questions:
1. What do we need to do now to continue operating after 31 December 2020?
With political noise increasing, businesses cannot afford to wait for final certainty on the outcome of the UK/EU negotiations. The focus should turn to practical, commercial, no-regret solutions that mitigate negative impacts of change.
2. Are any existing Brexit plans still fit for purpose?
The COVID-19 pandemic and continuing uncertainty means that preparing for Brexit is now significantly different than previous Brexit deadlines. Any previous planning assumptions should now be reassessed.
3. What actions can still be taken in the time remaining?
Whilst there is a lot of uncertainty, clarity does exist on enough areas to take some action – do not try to take the same approach of previous deadlines by doing nothing in the hope nothing will change. On 1 January change will happen, so take action urgently.
4. What should we be considering now for 2021?
To fully take advantage of the new trading environment that will result after the transition period, successful businesses will likely need to reassess their wider operating and trade models including supply chain, provision of services, workforce strategy and data.