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Brexit: a new chapter for the UK and the EU

31 January 2020: with the UK formally leaving the EU today, the ICAEW has called for a free trade agreement with the EU that maximises market access, safeguards the accountancy profession and avoids unnecessary bureaucracy.

Today marks the start of a new chapter for the UK and the EU, and while the UK is leaving the European Union (EU), ICAEW is not leaving Europe. The EU will remain a key player in the global regulatory and standard setting community, and therefore understanding its priorities and providing insight from ICAEW’s global perspective will remain very important.

ICAEW itself maintains its commitment to the European market, its members and partners, and will continue to work to influence decision-making at the highest level.

Following its official departure from the EU at 11pm (UK time) on 31 January, the UK will enter a period of negotiation lasting until 31 December 2020. During this time, the UK will aim to negotiate a free trade deal with the EU on a raft of different issues.

Accountancy requires specific attention in the upcoming negotiations. ICAEW has outlined that mobility, talent and training are of critical importance for the profession’s ability to help clients, ensure audit quality and distribute technical and management expertise.

For Dr. Martin Manuzi, ICAEW’s Regional Director, Europe, at this pivotal moment of potential economic dislocation there are several key areas to address.

“The negotiation period will hopefully be all about maximising mutual market access – working across borders to ensure the best possible outcome for all parties,” said Manuzi. “And the accountancy profession in Europe has for the last couple of decades in particular demonstrated great cross-border working – which we intend to continue going forward”.

In ICAEW’s view, it is vital that the standing of professional regulation is achieved with some certainty. The public interest role accountancy and audit plays must be safeguarded, and any uncertainties or impediments that stop the flow of key information should be avoided.

The Institute has also stressed to its members and business that UK-EU business rules will not change in the so-called transition period between 1 February and the end of 2020.

However, this doesn’t mean that business leaders should put Brexit to the bottom of their in-trays until any new agreements kick in from 1 January 2021. This week the UK government has launched its new ‘Ready to Trade’ advertising campaign to ensure people are ready to trade after Brexit, with two key messages: register for an EORI number; and get ready for customs formalities.