Last week brought positive news as the EU Commission and the UK government have finally negotiated a so-called withdrawal agreement.
This withdrawal agreement provides the legal basis for a transition period that will maintain status quo for trade and transport across the borders until at least the end of 2020, and even longer if the parties agree on it. A transition period will make life easier and give us as well as our customers more time to prepare for the changes that Brexit will bring about.
We are certainly pleased about this, but as many of you may have seen, the agreement is far from approved in the UK. Here it is causing a heated political debate and it seems to be facing a troublesome way through the political system, in the House of Commons in particular. It also needs the approval of the EU member states, but their support seems to be clearer. The reality is that we have a long and winding road ahead of us before the proposed agreement is approved.
Therefore, it will be a big mistake to slow down our Brexit preparations. The very real risk that the agreement will not be ratified means that we may still face a hard Brexit on 29 March.
We have come a long way in our Brexit preparations. We are training staff in customs clearance in many countries. We are applying to become an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO). We are meeting with customs officials, their IT consultants, ports and other operators about integration of IT systems – and if you have any doubts or questions about this, or need guidance and inspiration, I can only recommend that you contact our Brexit team who have been working hard to guide the preparations and gather knowledge. The team members are: Allan Bell, Jean Aubert, Emma Leam, Mikael Mortensen and Brian Nielsen.
A Brexit without a transition period will be very challenging, but we will be able to handle the challenges if we continue preparing our business for a hard Brexit and help and inspire our partners and customers to do the same. However, our main scenario is still that an agreement will be reached and a sensible transition period will be established, but it will serve us well to be prepared for all possible outcomes.