At the recent GGF Members’ Week, a panel from industry and politics gathered to debate the impact of Brexit on the glazing sector.
GK Strategy (political advisers of the GGF) hosted the online panel discussion which focused on the UK after the end of the Brexit Transition Period, and what it may mean for the glass and glazing sector and the wider British economy.
The expert panel included the Rt. Hon. David Laws, Former Liberal Democrat MP and Cabinet Office Minister; Dave Dalton, chief executive officer, British Glass; and Jeff May – director of government relations and business development, Construction Products Association (CPA)
Members in attendance had the opportunity to ask panellists questions on a range of subjects including: the future of the UK’s environmental standards; the potential disadvantage of UK businesses having to conform to two different sets of product standards; and the politics around a future trading agreement.
GK provided an overview and status of the UK/EU future trading relationship negotiations and outlined the key issues that may impact the sector as the UK prepares to leave the European Union with or without a deal. These were grouped as: The movement of goods; the movement of people and product standards.
Status of UK/EU negotiations
Political strategic adviser, David Laws, outlined that, although timeframes are tight for an agreement there are reasons to be optimistic about the prospect of the two sides reaching an agreement. There are increasingly positive signals that the two sides are moving closer together on issues of contention including governance of state aid measures, fisheries policy and the watering down of the controversial Internal Market Bill. However, despite these positive signals, David Laws said that there was still “approximately a 30% chance that no further agreement would be reached, and businesses need to prepare for different eventualities.”
Movement of goods
The panel outlined that although negotiations will determine the extent of checks on the UK-EU border, and the levels of tariffs and quotas on goods, the core framework for the new border operating model has been published. Known as the Border Operating Model (BOM), the BOM will be phased in from 1 January 2021, and all businesses will be required to complete point of importation customs requirements for all goods from 1 July 2021, but businesses should make preparations to do this from the New Year.
For exports, there will not be a similar grace period, and all businesses will need to comply with EU measures on exports from third countries from 1 January 2021. All businesses that import and export from the EU should investigate which steps they need to take in advance of 2021.
Since the panel discussion, the Border Operating Model has been updated with further detail on the requirements on hauliers exporting via Kent and the financial penalties if they are not compliant with ‘Checker HGV’.
Movement of People
Regardless of the outcome of negotiations, the UK will implement a new points-based immigration system from 1 January 2021. The new immigration system will only apply to new arrivals (following 1 January 2021). EU citizens living and working in the UK will be allowed to stay through the EU Settlement Scheme.
All applicants will need to meet criteria in order to qualify, including: a job offer from an “approved employer” at an “appropriate skill level” and English language proficiency. The Government defines “appropriate skill level” as RQF3 or above (equivalent to A-Level). Additional points are granted to applicants if the profession is on the shortage of occupation list or the offer has a salary of over £25,600. The panel noted that glazing professionals are not currently on the Shortage of Occupation list.
The panel outlined that product standards are still subject to negotiations, but the UK has announced plans to replace CE marking with a new UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) mark from 2021.
It is expected that the UK will accept both marks on products placed on the UK market for a time-limited period following the transition period.
Businesses should be aware that, if no agreement is reached in talks, products covered by the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) by Notified Bodies and Technical Assessment Bodies (TABs) in the UK will no longer be permitted on the EEA market.
The GGF will be working with GK Strategy to integrate the latest views and information onto the GGF Brexit Hub which is the industry’s conduit for interpretation of the Government information on the UK leaving the EU.
To see GK Strategy’s presentation at Members’ Week please visit: https://www.ggf.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/GGF-Members-Week-End-of-Transition-Period-for-panellists.pdf