Hopes grow for post-Brexit trade deal next week – FT

  • Britain and the EU can see the “landing zones” for a free trade agreement according to Ireland’s prime minister, as both sides softened their stance on fisheries and hopes grew that a deal could be reached early next week. Both sides see next week as the moment when a deal — if there is one — will materialise.
  • In Brussels there were claims Britain was edging towards a compromise on access to its fishing grounds — probably the biggest outstanding obstacle to a deal. Officials said the EU was also moderating its demands. British ministers confirmed a deal could allow EU boats to continue to have “generous” access to UK waters for a transition period, reflecting the relatively small size of the British fleet.
  • Boris Johnson has already opted for a “hard Brexit” with Britain pulling out of the EU single market and customs union; businesses and individuals will face extra red tape whether a trade deal is concluded or not. However, a free trade agreement would remove tariffs and quotas and create a platform of goodwill upon which other agreements could be struck to liberalise trade between the two sides in the future.
  • In anticipation of a possible deal, Mr Johnson’s parliamentary business managers are drawing up plans for legislation needed to put any trade agreement on to the statute book before January 1.

UK law-enforcement agencies renew warnings of Brexit disruption to information, extradition – MLex

  • UK law-enforcement chiefs have amplified longstanding warnings that their fight against financial crime and cross-border criminal activity faces being hobbled by Brexit. The National Police Chiefs’ Council and National Crime Agency wrote separately to lawmakers to warn of a “major operational impact” from the UK’s EU withdrawal.
  • Beyond the obstacles posed by no deal being reached in formal trade and partnership talks, the NCA and NPCC letters also voiced fears over the outcome of data-adequacy talks with the EU, saying a failure there would also impact policing and law enforcement operations after Brexit.
  • An EU decision on whether UK protections for personal data are “adequate” to protect the bloc’s citizens had been due by the end of the year, determining whether a bilateral flow of data can continue or companies will need to adopt additional measures to comply with the legal requirements.
  • A senior commission official warned today that delays meant it would now be “challenging” to get a final decision on data transfers this year (see here). It is expected that if the UK does secure a data-adequacy decision, it would be challenged by privacy campaigners concerned about UK’s wide-ranging surveillance laws (see more).

Brexit changes set to hit second-hand cars in NI – BBC

  • Brexit-related changes are set to make it more expensive for NI car dealers to source second-hand vehicles from GB as from January, dealers will have to pay VAT on the full price they paid for the car in GB to sell in NI. Currently when dealers buy a vehicle in GB and then sell it in Northern Ireland, they only have to pay VAT on the profit.
  • This will drastically reduce the profit margins on those vehicles or see price rises for consumers. The VAT bill for a car bought for £8,000 and sold for £10,000 could rise from £333 to £1666. GB is a significant source of second-hand cars for NI either from auctions or cars coming off a lease.
  • Official guidance from HMRC states: “In line with EU rules, margin schemes involving goods, such as the second-hand margin schemes, will not usually apply for sales in Northern Ireland where the stock is purchased in Great Britain. Margin schemes will remain available for sales of goods that are purchased in Northern Ireland or the EU, whether sold to customers in Northern Ireland, Great Britain or the EU.”