This page features the Institute's representations and analysis on the impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, in the area of customs and taxation, as well as Government and European resources for businesses in the lead up to Brexit.
On 23 June 2016, the UK electorate voted to leave the European Union and on 29 March 2017, the UK notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the EU in accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. The European Council adopted a set of political guidelines on 29 April 2017, which define the framework for the negotiations and set out the EU's overall positions and principles. Brexit negotiations between the EU and the UK began on 19 June 2017.
On 14 November 2018 the Heads of State/Government of the remaining 27 EU Member States approved a Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by the European Commission and the UK Government. A Political Declaration on future EU-UK relations was also approved at the same time.
The European Council decided, in agreement with the UK, to extend the two-year period provided for by Article 50 from 30 March 2019 until 31 October 2019.
On 17 October 2019, it was announced that the EU and the UK had reached a revised Withdrawal Agreement, which includes a revised Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol and a revised Political Declaration. Under the revised Withdrawal Agreement, Northern Ireland would remain aligned to certain Single Market rules, avoiding the requirement for a customs border on the island of Ireland, while ensuring that Northern Ireland remains part of the UK's customs territory.
On 28 October 2019, the EU agreed a further three-month extension to the Brexit deadline of 31 October 2019, making the new Brexit deadline 31 January 2020. The Withdrawal Agreement was presented to the European Parliament on 29 January 2020 for ratification, which ensured the orderly exit of the UK from the EU at midnight on 31 January 2020.
When the Withdrawal Agreement came into effect, a transition period began on 1 February 2020 which was due to end on 31 December 2020, however with an option to extend it up to 31 December 2022 if agreed by the EU and the UK.
On 25 February 2020, the European Council authorised the opening of the future partnership negotiations with the UK. The UK government confirmed it would not consider an extension of the Brexit transition period at the second meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee under the Withdrawal Agreement on 12 June 2020.
On 7 December 2020, the Co-Chairs of the EU-UK Joint Committee met to address the outstanding issues relating to the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement. The EU-UK Joint Committee met virtually on 17 December 2020 to endorse all formal decisions and other practical solutions related to the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, as of 1 January 2021. The Withdrawal Agreement, and the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland in particular, were implemented on 1 January 2021.
On 24 December 2020, the EU signed the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The Agreement concluded between the EU and the UK sets out preferential arrangements in areas such as trade in goods and in services, digital trade, intellectual property, public procurement, aviation and road transport, energy, fisheries, social security coordination, law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, thematic cooperation and participation in Union programmes. It is underpinned by provisions ensuring a level playing field and respect for fundamental rights.
Regarding entry into application of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the European Commission will apply it on a provisional basis, for a limited period of time until 28 February 2021. The Commission will propose Council decisions on the signature and provisional application, and on the conclusion of the Agreement. The European Council, acting by the unanimity of all 27 Member States, must adopt a decision authorising the signature of the Agreement and its provisional application as of 1 January 2021. Once this process is concluded, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and the UK can be formally signed.
The European Parliament will then be asked to give its consent to the Agreement. As a final step on the EU side, the European Council must adopt the decision on the conclusion of the Agreement.
In February 2019, the Institute made representations to Revenue via TALC (Tax Administration Liaison Committee) on the key measures needed to alleviate the potential impact of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
We understand from discussions at TALC that it was intended that the Miscellaneous Provisions (Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union) Act 2019 (the Withdrawal Act) would cover only those measures which would have an immediate impact in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit and that other Brexit-related tax issues would be addressed in Finance Bill 2019.
In June 2019, as part of our Pre-Finance Bill 2019 Submission to the Department of Finance, the Institute identified several circumstances that are not covered by the Withdrawal Act, which we believe should be included in Finance Bill 2019, in order to ensure that the status quo for taxpayers will be maintained in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.
In June 2020, as part of our Pre-Finance Bill 2020 Submission to the Minister for Finance, the institute identified a number of measures to alleviate the impact of Brexit. Following the confirmation by the UK that it will not consider an extension to the Brexit transition period beyond 31 December 2020, we requested clarity for taxpayers as to whether the taxation provisions contained in Part 6 of the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Act 2019 (the Withdrawal Act) would be commenced or indeed, whether policymakers intend to enact similar legislative provisions, given the Withdrawal Act was meant to apply in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit.
In July 2020, the Institute made a subsequent Submission to the Department of Finance on tax measures for consideration in drafting the 2020 Brexit Omnibus Bill.
In September 2020, following the publication of the General Scheme of the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2020, the Institute made a Submission to the Department of Finance on this General Scheme of the 2020 Brexit Omnibus Bill outlining tax measures to be considered as the Bill passed through the legislative process in the Oireachtas.