GGF’s Brexit Guidance Enters Transition Period
During the Transition Period, the UK will remain in both the EU Customs Union and Single Market, meaning that there will be no changes to the previous trading relationship, including free movement, however, arrangements from 1st January 2020 are subject to negotiation over the coming year with the following possible outcomes.
Trade arrangements - Trade arrangements for goods travelling between the EU and UK will be discussed in negotiations between the two parties.
• If the two sides are unable to reach an agreement on the trade of goods before the end of the Transition Period, EU/UK trade would be subject to tariffs and additional VAT under WTO rules. This would also necessitate additional paperwork, in the form of import declarations.
• If the sides are able to compromise on the issue of regulatory alignment, tariffs could be avoided.
Standards - Agreements on environmental and labour standards after the Transition Period will be subject to negotiation and will be directly related to discussions on the trade of goods. The EU is aiming for alignment in these areas in exchange for free movement of goods and the UK is aiming to diverge from current standards.
For construction products standards, Government has published legislation that mirrors the current EU Construction Product Regulation (CPR) 2013, meaning that there will be no changes to standards required for construction products imported from the EU if no agreement is reached.
Skills - When the UK leaves the EU Single Market, free movement of labour from within the EU will end and the UK will adopt a new immigration system, under which there will be no distinction between EEA and non-EEA citizens. The Government has asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to consider how a ‘points-based’ immigration system could be introduced from 2021. The GGF had input to the response on the MAC Consultation last year.
Currently, there are two types of visas for non-EEA citizens:
• Tier 1 “exceptional talent” visa: highly qualified people who need to be endorsed as a leader or emerging leader, but do not need a job offer - capped at 2,000 offers a year.
• Tier 2 visa:
o Applicant needs to match exact criteria, including having a job offer with a minimum salary of £30,000.
o Lower salary threshold if the applicant is on the so-called Shortage Occupation List.
The MAC published its recommendations in January, including:
• Government should lower the threshold for the salary needed by someone with a job offer from £30,000 to £25,600.
• Government could expand this way of entering the UK by increasing the number of points awarded to those with the most desired skills.
• The new immigration system should lower the criteria for Tier 1 applicants.
A lower salary threshold would be beneficial for the glazing industry, as it would enable more medium skilled workers to qualify. Government will consider the advice of the MAC before introducing legislation on the new immigration system later this year.
James Lee, GGF Director of External Affairs commented, “Throughout the Brexit transition period, the GGF will continue to update the industry as and when we receive the latest information. The Brexit Hub we have set up on the GGF website explains all the issues affecting companies during the transition period. I would advise companies to visit the Hub to keep up to speed on all the forthcoming changes that will impact on the sector in the coming months.”