Small businesses are calling on the Government to set out how Britain’s departure from the European Union has the potential to affect them in future.
With Article 50 notification having been delivered to Brussels from Prime Minister Theresa May today, the countdown to the UK’s exit from the EU has finally begun: both sides now have two years to agree a deal for future cooperation with regards to matters such as trade, immigration and freedom of movement.
There are concerns within small businesses that the failure of the UK to establish a satisfactory deal within the two-year timeframe could mean Britain has to trade with its European neighbours according to World Trade Organisation rules. In such circumstances, some form of export and import tariffs would seem to be inevitable.
What’s the Brexit timetable?
According to Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, a state which chooses to leave the EU has two years from notifying the European Council to negotiate arrangements for withdrawal. This means that Britain is likely to officially leave in March 2019.
However, the treaty says that the negotiation period can be extended provided both the EU and the UK agree to do so.
While the negotiations that are taking place over the next two years are expected to set out in broad terms the future relationship between the EU and Britain, there is a strong possibility that some form of transitional deal will come into effect in the years immediately after Brexit.
This could mean that current trading rules remain in force while the finer details of a long-term trading deal are hammered out. However, reports from EU sources have this week suggested that any transitional deal would last no longer than three years.
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