Necessary preparations ahead of UK withdrawal from EU customs union

Published

The United Kingdom’s transition period ends at the end of this year and will then have fully withdrawn from the EU. It is still unclear what trade conditions will apply, but trading with the UK will in any case be more difficult. Preparations ahead of next year by both public authorities and businesses in Sweden are of central importance, say Hans Dahlgren and Anna Hallberg during a digital visit to Swedish Customs.

Negotiations between the UK and the EU on a future agreement are now in an intensive final phase. Regardless of whether or not an agreement is reached, it will be a new situation for both Swedish businesses and public authorities. On Friday 6 November, Minister for EU Affairs Hans Dahlgren and Minister for Foreign Trade and Nordic Affairs Anna Hallberg paid a digital visit to Swedish Customs to learn about the agency’s preparations ahead of the UK’s complete withdrawal from the EU at the end of this year.

“What the exact conditions will be remain to be seen. From Sweden’s perspective, our sincere hope is that the negotiators succeed and reach an agreement. This can be resolved – and it would be good for all parties involved,” says Mr Dahlgren.

Swedish Customs is a key actor in the trade chain and one of the public authorities whose work to a great extent will be affected by the UK’s withdrawal. Their preparations have long been under way and on Friday, the ministers were informed of this work.

“A major transition can be expected in the new year, regardless of whether or not an agreement is reached. It is therefore important that our public authorities are well prepared ahead of these changes, no matter the scenario. Swedish Customs is definitely a central authority for dealing with the changed conditions for the flow of goods between Sweden and the UK. And my distinct impression is that Swedish Customs is well prepared for this,” says Mr Dahlgren.

Difficult situation for Swedish businesses

The UK is one of Sweden’s most important trading partners, and the end of the transition period will affect many Swedish businesses.
“It will no longer be possible to take common regulations, standards and freedom of movement for granted. Goods that are currently automatically approved in the entire EU will no longer have this approval,” says Ms Hallberg.

Ms Hallberg points out that companies that do not have experience of trading with countries outside the EU – often small and medium-sized companies – will need to ensure that they apply for the necessary permits and review their delivery chains, etc. Even if an agreement between the UK and the EU is reached, there will still be customs formalities that must be observed.

“My advice is that all companies should set aside time – a whole or half day – to analyse current trade patterns and identify the measures that need to be taken. Good guidance is available on the Swedish Customs and National Board of Trade websites,” says Ms Hallberg.