Britain may revert back to the imperial system as part of its plans to ‘capitalize on new Brexit freedoms’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has hailed his Brexit deal, but it does little for financial services firms

  • The Uk announced plans on Thursday to reevaluate leftover laws from the European Union.
  • The government said it will review the EU ban on imperial units and legislate “in due course.”
  • The EU-imposed metric system has “long been a flashpoint for anti-EU campaigners,” i news said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The UK is considering reverting back to the imperial system, the weight and measurement system that uses pounds and ounces, as part of it’s efforts to “capitalise on the freedoms from Brexit,” according to the British government.

In statement issued Thursday, the UK said thousands of European Union laws that the UK retained after Brexit “will be scrutinised by the Government to ensure they are helping the UK to thrive as a modern, dynamic, independent country and foster innovation across the British economy.”

The announcement said the government will be considering laws that have an impact on technology, transportation, and agriculture. It also said it would be “reviewing the EU ban on markings and sales in imperial units and legislating in due course, none of which were possible within the EU.”

Under the EU, supermarkets in the UK were required to list measurements for fruits and vegetables in the metric system, such as grams and kilograms, starting in 1994. However, the EU allowed Britain to use imperial measurements alongside metric, according to The New York Times.

Most of the world uses the metric system of weights and measurements. The US uses the imperial system.

UK newspaper i news said the EU-imposed metric system has “long been a flashpoint for anti-EU campaigners.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson campaigned on a promise of reverting to the imperial system, saying in 2019 the change would be part of “an era of generosity and tolerance towards traditional measurements,” according to The Week.

With the announcement on Thursday, David Frost, the UK’s Brexit chief, said “overbearing regulations were often conceived and agreed in Brussels with little consideration of the UK national interest,” i news reported.

“We now have the opportunity to do things differently and ensure that Brexit freedoms are used to help businesses and citizens get on and succeed,” Frost said.

Critics have said changes to such rules seem insignificant in light of the difficulties businesses are having filling positions, driven “in part because of the exodus of European Union immigrants since the vote to leave the bloc,” The New York Times reported.

Other changes to back to pre-EU times have also been celebrated by the pro-Brexit crowd, including the UK reverting back to blue-colored passports last year, replacing the burgundy color used by EU countries.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said at the time the blue passport will “once again be entwined with our national identity,” the BBC reported.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Tens of thousands of British people in Europe could soon become ‘undocumented migrants’ thanks to Brexit

People look at property advertisements in an estate agency dedicated to British buyers, on June 16, 2016, in Eymet, southwestern France, in the Dordogne region where a large population of British expatriates live.
People look at property advertisements in an estate agency dedicated to British buyers, on June 16, 2016, in Eymet, southwestern France, in the Dordogne region where a large population of British expatriates live.

  • 10,000s of British expats in Europe have less than a month to avoid becoming undocumented migrants.
  • UK citizens in France, Luxembourg, and elsewhere are required by law to apply for residency by June 30 or they could lose basic rights.
  • Citizens’ rights groups said citizens who failed to apply risked losing access to healthcare.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Up to 100,000 British ex-pats in mainland Europe have less than a month to apply for permanent residency on the continent or risk becoming undocumented migrants with the threat of lost rights or deportation.

Under post-Brexit rules, UK citizens who live in countries including France, Malta, and Luxembourg are required by law to apply for residency by June 30 or they could lose basic rights.

But tens of thousands living abroad have still not applied, leading to concerns that those affected could lose access to healthcare and other basic rights as a result of their new status.

“We are now less than a month before our deadline and people just do not know what the consequences will be. They don’t know exactly how their lives will be impacted,” Kalba Meadows, co-founder of the citizens’ rights group France Rights and a resident in France, told Insider.

“If they haven’t applied before the deadline and they aren’t due to have reasonable grounds for a late application, they’re going to become undocumented migrants.

“What the actual consequences of that will be we don’t know, but it is highly likely that they will lose access to healthcare. That has serious consequences, especially for the elderly and vulnerable,” she said.

“There are huge numbers of potential implications.”

Fourteen of the EU’s 27 member states granted automatic residency to British citizens who were already living there, but the remaining 13 require UK ex-pats to apply.

Those countries include Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, which has extended the deadline to November 30.

According to the EU-UK joint committee on citizens rights’, 298,000 British citizens in total need to apply for residency, but only 190,100 had done so by April 28.

That figure includes 25,500 people in France from a total of 148,300 who had not applied by the end of April.

Many British ex-pats aren’t aware of their rights

brexit 1

The UK-EU joint committee’s report said that French authorities were carrying out “awareness-raising campaigns” online and through printed media, but Meadows – who lives in France – said she had not seen any.

British in Europe, a citizens’ rights group, has called for other member states to extend the deadline, spokesperson Fiona Godfrey told Insider.

The UK, several months ago, issued a set of guidelines on how it would treat late applications from people affected by COVID-19.

Godfrey said British in Europe had asked the European Commission for similar guidelines in member states and were told that they were, but no guidelines have yet been published.

“The thing we don’t know is if the deadlines are not extended if people do wake up undocumented on July 1, what that will actually mean for them. I’ve asked in meetings: What concretely will that mean for them? We haven’t been told that,” Godfrey said.

Insider contacted the European Commission for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Video shows 2 boats crashing amid a standoff between the UK and France over Brexit fishing rights

jersey boats colliding
  • Two boats collided near the Channel island of Jersey amid a fishing dispute between Britain and France.
  • Sky News reported that a French boat “rammed” a British vessel.
  • French boats gathered to protest Brexit fishing restrictions, and both countries sent patrol boats.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Video footage shows two boats colliding in the English channel as France and the UK face off over fishing rights.

The video, published by Sky News, appears to shows a boat without a visible flag head toward another boat that’s flying the flag of Jersey, which is a self-governing dependency of the United Kingdom. The vessels then briefly collide.

Watch the video here:

It is not clear who or what countries those boats belonged to. Sky News reported that it was a French boat hit a British vessel.

Jersey sits close to the French coast, and French boats gathered there this week to protest limits on when French boats could fish there under post-Brexit licenses.

France threatened to cut off power to the island on Wednesday.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson then sent two gunboats to the waters, which arrived early on Thursday.

The UK said it sent the boats to “monitor the situation,” and France then sent its own patrol boats on Thursday.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Brexit has been a disaster for Britain as collapsing European trade puts UK firms out of business

Analysis banner
boris johnson brexit
Boris Johnson’s Brexit promises have so far fallen short.

  • Brexit has led to a collapse in the UK’s trade with its European neighbors.
  • The Brexit deal negotiated by Boris Johnson’s government has led to the largest ever recorded fall in UK exports to Europe.
  • Many UK businesses could soon become unviable due to the trading friction caused by Brexit.
  • “What I’m hearing a lot is that a lot of small businesses have been shut out completely,” Dominic Goudie, head of international trade at the Food & Drink Federation told Insider.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The UK government promised that Brexit would liberate Britain from European trading regulations and herald a bright new era for Britain on the world stage.

Yet despite spending years campaigning for the UK’s exit from the European Union last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his colleagues have been oddly quiet about Britain’s fortunes ever since it left.

The reason for their silence is becoming increasingly obvious. In the few short months since Britain left European trade and customs rules, there has been a dramatic decline in UK trade.

According to the UK’s Office for National Statistics, trade between the EU and UK was hit hard in January, with exports down by 40.7% compared to December and imports from the EU down by 28% in the same period.

This is the biggest overall fall in exports since records began, yet the decline for some sectors has been even worse.

Analysis by the Food & Drink Federation published last week showed that exports in January dropped from £45 million to £7 million year-on-year, while whisky exports dropped from £105 million to £40 million.

This is a colossal decline. However, for some sectors, like parts of the UK’s world-renowned shellfish fishing industry, the decline could be permanent due to the EU effectively locking Britain out of its market altogether.

Brexit is hitting British businesses hard

boris johnson ursula
Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

Far from liberating trade, Brexit has led to a massive increase in bureaucracy for many British businesses, due to the additional new checks now required.

In fact for some smaller businesses, the piles of paperwork, bureaucracy, and export health certificate checks that are now required to trade with Britain’s closest trading partners now make it very difficult to export anything at all.

“What I’m hearing a lot is that a lot of small businesses have been shut out completely,” Dominic Goudie, head of international trade at the Food & Drink Federation, told Insider.

Brexit is not the only reason that trade between the EU nosedived in January: Part of the drop-off was the result of pre-Brexit stockpiling and the COVID-19 pandemic which has shuttered businesses across the continent, said Goudie, and a British government official told Reuters that trade in February had partially rebounded, although official figures are yet to be published.

However, many leading business figures believe that Brexit’s impact will be permanent, with Adam Marshall, the outgoing director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, telling Bloomberg last week that the impact appeared to be serious and “structural.”

A lot of small businesses have been shut out completely – Dominic Goudie, head of international trade at the Food & Drink Federation,

As an island nation heavily reliant on imports, even small delays to trade can have a big impact.

“If you have a problem with one single item in that entire lorry it delays everything else,” Goudie told Insider.

“That’s the stuff that really worries me,” Goudie said. “Larger businesses are adapting, the volume should start to pick up.

“But the smaller businesses, in particular, are going to be badly hit. That’s what really concerns me in all of this.”

Sales of many lower-value items have, in many cases, simply become unviable. Simon Spurrell, the co-founder of the Cheshire Cheese Company, stopped exporting his packs of cheeses to the EU, which were priced at around £30, because each parcel needed to be accompanied by £180, he told the Guardian.

He said he had been advised by a minister to simply focus on exporting to other markets instead.

All of this is a long way from the bright new trading future promised by Johnson and the UK government.

And while the political debate in Britain has been dominated by the coronavirus pandemic in recent months, the longer-term impact of the UK cutting its ties with its closest trading partners could soon become a massive political issue once again.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Working abroad After Brexit: Visas and Taxes Explained

Reading Time: 7 mins

Working abroad after Brexit will change now that the UK has left the European Union. There are currently three quarters of a million British expats living in the EU.

You may still be interested in joining the near one million Brits in the EU despite Brexit. But before you jet off to seek another lifestyle, you’ll need to understand all the new visa and tax requirements. If you’ve already read the rules and found them confusing, then you’re in luck. Here at Money Magpie, we’ve put together an seven-step guide to give you all the information you need.

  1. Who Needs a Visa?
  2. Where to Find Visa Information
  3. Entertainment Visas
  4. Countries That Have Digital Nomad Visas
  5. Where Do You Pay Tax
  6. Your Benefit Entitlement
  7. Your State Pension

Who needs a visa?

You don't need a visa after Brexit for some holidays in 2021 - but will for 2022

Those who’ve planned a holiday to the EU, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway or Switzerland in 2021 will be relieved to know that you won’t need a visa. Although, coronavirus restrictions may scupper holiday plans. Keep an eye on the Foreign Office official advice. And, if you’re taking a risk to book ahead – make sure you get travel insurance the same time you book in case the pandemic ruins your plans!

From the 1st January 2022, UK holidaymakers seeking sun and sites in the EU will need to apply for an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System). An ETIAS is a three-year visa waiver that will cost £6.35 for those three years. Travellers will be encouraged to apply online. You’ll be required to provide information such as your age, past criminal convictions, and your accommodation address when applying.

UK residents will only be able to spend 90 out of 180 days on holiday in Europe. You may want to stay in the EU for longer, which means you’ll need a visa.

You’ll also need a visa if you’re working abroad after Brexit. In some cases, you may need a work permit by your host country too. Visa’s will be required by UK residents who are attending a conference, providing services for a charity, touring as a musician or relocating to a European branch of your company’s business.

Where to find Visa Information

Currently, an EU-wide visa does not exist. Instead, you’ll have to apply for an individual visa with your host country if you want to work abroad after Brexit.

Those who were working in the EU before 1st January 2021 will be relieved to know that their right to work is protected. However, if you’re working or living in the EU who will have to register as a resident of that country by June.

If you’re a UK resident and you’re still interested in working abroad after Brexit, then you’ll need a job offer from the employer of your desired host country. You’ll need this offer to start on your visa journey. Once you’ve acquired your offer, you should contact the nearest UK-based embassy of your desired host country.

The London Diplomatic List contains all the contact details of every embassy. We recommend contacting the embassy via phone or email given the UK’s current coronavirus restrictions.

The embassy will be able to provide information about what you need to do in order to work in your desired host country.

You can also read the individual country’s requirements via the UK Government’s Living in Guide. Simply search your desired country, here.

VISA example: Italy

Miss X currently lives in Bristol and holds a UK passport. She has been offered a job by an Italian firm who are based in Rome. Miss X decides to accept the company’s job offer.

  • She simply can’t hop on a plane and start work as the freedom of movement between the UK and the EU has ended.
  • Instead, Miss X has to check Italy’s visa requirements via the Where Do You Live tool, which can be accessed, here.
  • Miss X’s Italian employer will need to apply for her work permit.
  • Once her employer receives the work permit, then Miss X will be able to apply for an Italian visa at a UK-based Italian embassy.
  • When Miss X has received the visa, she’ll be able to apply for a residence permit, which will mean Miss X  can live and work in Italy legally.

The visa application process for every country is different, so be sure to check the individual guidance.

EU Blue Card

You might be classified as a highly-qualified worker and able to apply for an EU Blue Card.

This card gives non-EU workers the right to live and work in Europe after Brexit. To apply for an EU Blue Card, you’ll need to hold a higher education degree (e.g. a university degree), work as a paid employee and have a salary that’s one and a half times the average national salary. You’ll also need to present a binding work contract as well as full travel and legal requirements.

Your European employer must submit an application form on your behalf. And, you may be charged an application fee.

Warning! You can’t apply if you’re an entrepreneur or self-employed. It’s also not applicable in Denmark and Ireland.

Entertainment visas

Entertainment visas are needed for working abroad after Brexit

Working abroad after Brexit is now different for UK musicians, artists, bands, actors, and crews who are transporting equipment. Those who work in the above industries will need to seek additional work permits if they want to work in Europe.

British musicians, bands and artists will only be able to tour for 90 days out of an 180 day period. This is very similar to tourist requirements that UK residents have to follow. Entertainers who decide to perform in France and the Netherlands won’t need to obtain additional work permits.

However, if you’d like to perform or work in Germany or Spain, then you’ll need additional work permits. The Incorporated Society of Musicians have complied a full list of work permits that you may need to apply for as a touring musician. This list can be accessed, here.

A number of high profile celebrities have condemned the end of visa-free touring. Government guidance could change in the coming weeks and months in response to the backlash, so always keep abreast of the latest guidance.

Digital Nomad visas

Throughout 2020, the entire world adapted to work from home. If you’re working from home, you might be fantasising about working by the sea and sun in Europe.

The majority of remote workers won’t be able to apply for a traditional visa. Your employer may still be based in the UK or, like may other digital nomads, you may not even have an employer. These two factors stop many remote workers from applying for a visa.

Instead, digital nomad visas legalise the status of travelling professionals

Each country that issues a digital nomad visa, has its own policies and regulations. The countries who have digital nomad visas in the EU include: Germany, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Croatia, Norway and Estonia. There are also a number of other non-EU countries who also have digital-nomad visas. This means you may still be able to work abroad with your laptop after Brexit.

To apply for a digital nomad visa, you’ll need to hold a valid passport and be able to prove that you have a steady income. You’ll also be asked to provide your nationality, any visa history as well as a criminal record. You may also need to pay an application fee as well as additional documents.

Like with other visas, you’ll have to check individual guidance with your desired host country.

Digital Nomad visa example: Germany

  • Miss X is a self-employed writer who has decided to spend some time writing in Munich, Germany.
  • She has several clients in Germany, from a variety of publishers. This means that Miss X has a steady-income and a strong client base.
  • She also holds a valid UK passport and doesn’t have a criminal record.
  • As Miss X is a freelancer, she’ll be able to apply for a digital nomad visa.
  • To apply, Miss X will need to register with the German tax office. She’ll also need to submit a portfolio, bank statements and provide evidence of her expertise.
Warning! For years, remote workers have also found themselves in legal grey areas. Always check the requirements of your desired host country before you attempt to work in that country.

Where do you pay tax?

Working abroad after Brexit could impact how and where you pay taxes

Now you’ve wrapped your head around the visa requirements, you’ll need to understand how tax works if you’re considering working abroad after Brexit.

If you’re not a UK resident, then you won’t need to pay tax on your foreign income. You’re automatically considered a non-UK resident, if you work abroad full time and have spent fewer than 16 days working in the UK.

However, if you are a UK resident, then you’ll need to pay tax in the UK. To work out your resident status, you’ll need to tot up where you spend most of your working days in any tax year. If you’ve spent 183 days in the UK and your only home is in the UK, then you’ll have to pay tax on your foreign income.

To pay taxes on your foreign income, you’ll need to submit a self-assessment tax return. Check out our handy guide on filing a return, here.

Remember! You may be able to claim tax relief if you’re taxed in more than one country. If you think this could be you, check out the UK Government’s guidance.

Your benefit entitlement

After the 1st January 2021, the rules for paying some UK benefits in the EU, EEA and Switzerland have changed.

For those who’ve already received benefits while living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you’ll be relieved to hear that you’ll continue to receive these benefits. This is as long as you still meet the other eligibility criteria.

If you’re moving to the UK after this date, you’ll still be able to claim for the following benefits: bereavement Support Payment and other bereavement benefits, industrial injuries benefits, maternity allowance, maternity pay, paternity pay and sick pay. Like before, you will have to prove that you’re eligible for these benefits.

Further, if you’ve made relevant social security contributions in an EU country, you may qualify for UK benefits This includes the New Style Jobseekers Allowance and the New Style Employment and Support Allowance. If you’re working abroad after Brexit, check where you pay social security contributions, here.

The guidance for British expats living in Norway, Iceland, Litchensutein and Switzerland is currently being updated.

Your state pension

You’ll still be able to receive your state pension if you live in the EU, EEA or Switzerland. Your pension will also increase in line with the rate that is paid in the UK.

While this guidance is for UK nationals, you’ll be relived to hear that the rules for state pension apply to everyone. So, if you decide to retire in the EU in the future, you should be able to claim a state pension.

Useful reading

If you found this article useful, then you may also like:

The post Working abroad After Brexit: Visas and Taxes Explained appeared first on MoneyMagpie.

The FTSE 100 had a stellar first week of 2021, beating US and European stocks. Is this the year it finally outperforms?

The FTSE 100 had a tough 2020, but optimism has risen in the City.

  • The FTSE 100 rose more than 6% last week, far outstripping the US’s S&P 500 and Germany’s Dax. 
  • The UK’s main index has been boosted by coronavirus vaccines, the Brexit trade deal, and expectations of Democratic stimulus in the US.
  • But the lack of a financial services Brexit deal and worries about the UK economy could hold back British stocks.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The FTSE 100 roared ahead in the first week of 2021, jumping more than 6% compared to increases of roughly 0.13% on the US’s S&P 500 and 1% on Germany’s Dax.

A number of factors have driven the FTSE higher: the signing of a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU; the approval and rollout of coronavirus vaccines; and the Democrat victories in the Georgia Senate runoff elections in the US.

Each of these promise to aid an economic recovery in 2021 that will help the industrial, financial, and energy firms that make up much of the UK’s blue-chip index, and which suffered so much under the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

But the FTSE is still well behind its peers when looked at over the last year. Whereas the S&P 500 is around 17% higher than it was a year ago and the Dax is up about 5.5%, the FTSE 100 is down roughly 9.5%.

The question investors – from amateur traders to the biggest institutions – are asking themselves is whether the FTSE can continue its winning streak and finally make them money.

FTSE 100 investors look past short-term gloom

The UK economy is in a bad place. A new, more infectious strain of coronavirus has caused cases to soar, forcing the government to bring in tough restrictions. Goldman Sachs now expects the UK to enter another recession in the first quarter.

Should the situation worsen, investors may take notice. Yet for now, they are looking past short-term worries towards what they hope will be a strong expansion later in the year.

In particular, the UK’s rapid approval and rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines has lifted investor confidence since December.

“Our view is that 2021 will be about reflation created by global supply constraints and a successful rollout of COVID-19 vaccines,” Saxo Bank’s head of equity strategy Peter Garnry told Insider.

A return to normality, growth and inflation via vaccines “is positive for interest rates and commodities which benefits banks and resource companies,” Garnry said.

The FTSE 100 is chock-full of such companies. Miners Glencore, Anglo American and Rio Tinto all rose more than 13% last week. HSBC and Standard Chartered rose more than 8%.

Another element of the story is that the FTSE 100’s laggard status has made it attractive. Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at trading platform, told Insider: “You look at the Dax, it’s at an all-time high. Euro Stoxx, all-time high … The only one that’s cheap with some value left in it is the FTSE.”

Brexit could pose a threat

The eventual end to the long-running Brexit saga has also boosted UK equities, with a trade deal removing the threat of a no-deal outcome that so worried markets.

Yet, the UK has still unmoored itself from its biggest trading partner and the deal does next to nothing for financial services. Despite the short-term relief of a trade deal, some analysts say Brexit is still a threat to the FTSE 100.

“Banking stocks have given up some of their pre-Christmas gains as those worries about the potential long term impact leaving the EU will have on financial services filter through,” Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, told Insider.

NatWest is down around 3% this week, for example, while Lloyds has fallen roughly 1.5%.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has hailed his Brexit deal, but it does little for financial services firms

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said in a note: “We doubt that 2021 will be the year that UK stocks finally outperform.” Many UK stocks are still less attractive than high-flying growth stocks such as the tech giants of the US, he said.

Tombs also cited worries about financial services, and stressed that the deal “has reduced, but not eliminated trade uncertainties.”

Reflation trade suits the FTSE 100

Yet FTSE 100 investors are in a jubilant mood. A key part of this story is Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election and the Democratic party’s wins in Georgia, which will give them control of the Senate.

Expectations of extra stimulus under the Democrats have caused bond yields to rise as investors anticipate more issuance from the government and stronger growth and inflation.

The rise in yields – the US 10-year Treasury yield, which moves inversely to price, has climbed above 1% – has helped banks, which benefit from higher interest rates and hold lots of bonds. It has also boosted so-called value stocks, as investors cool slightly on the growth stocks that looked so attractive when yields were low.

Garnry says: “Our view is that the FTSE 100 will do well this year, but because of external factors mentioned above and not the domestic situation which is still gloomy for the UK.”

Wilson says: “There are loads of risks. There could be tax hikes in America, more regulation, [and] you’ve got the risk the vaccines don’t really work in spurring the economic recovery.”

“But I just think there’s just so much money coming, there’s so much stimulus, there’s so much support.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Brexit contains a lucky break for terrorists, Europol sources say

FILE - In this Nov. 13, 2015, file photo, a woman is being evacuated from the Bataclan concert hall after a shooting in Paris. France is commemorating the fourth anniversary of the Islamic State attacks in Paris. The attacks on Nov. 13, 2015, left 131 people dead at the country's national stadium, the Bataclan concert hall and bars and restaurants in the city center. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)
A woman being evacuated from the Bataclan concert hall after a terrorist shooting in Paris on November 13, 2015. The attacks left more than 130 people dead.

  • Brexit will make it harder to check names, passports, travel history, and criminal records of terror suspects moving between the EU and the UK, sources tell Insider.

  • The Schengen system that Europol uses to track terrorists is accessed by law enforcement 1.6 million times per day. The UK no longer has access to it.
  • That’s a problem for Europe too, because the UK produces more terrorists than any other country except France. 
  • “They have chosen to make it more difficult and time-consuming to fight terrorism anywhere,” a European security source told Insider.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The UK will no longer have access to multiple databases critical for combating transnational crime and terrorism after the first of the year because it has thus far failed to come to a Brexit agreement with European security agencies and regulators on the use of collected data.

The situation, according to EU intelligence officials, will force security officials on both sides of the channel to work much harder and less efficiently to check names, passports, travel history, criminal records, and other investigative tools to track suspects moving around Europe and between the EU and the UK.

“The Schengen system alone is accessed over 500 million times a year by UK officials, but tomorrow the daily average of 1.6 million requests for information will stop and UK officials will be forced to collect all the information from other sources,” said a senior Belgian counter-terrorism official, whose service does not allow them to speak openly to the media. “This information can certainly be found but the point of these systems and databases is speed and proper managing of huge streams of information.”

The “Schengen” area refers to the 26 European countries which have abolished all border controls.

Brexit will hurt investigations and prevention of organised crime and terrorism, security officials say

Two senior European counter-terrorism officials told Insider that the UK exit agreement’s failure to include access to the Europol systems for tracking wanted fugitives and international arrest warrants would hurt investigations and prevention of organised crime and terrorism until a new agreement was reached. The Europe system which combines Interpol’s international system with the EU’s criminal databases, as well as the extensive database of all Schengen area travelers.

“It’s rather demoralizing because in the case of the Schengen database this was a project that all EU member states have worked on closely since 2015 to close gaps in the system that were revealed in terror attacks from 2014 until 2016,” said the Belgian official. The source investigated the November 2015 attacks in Paris as well as the March 2016 attacks in Brussels by a cell of Belgian ISIS members. 

After the Paris attacks, which killed 137 people in multiple incidents including the Bataclan nightclub, EU officials were aghast to learn that the European planners had been known to law enforcement as ISIS members and had been able to return to Europe from Syria unnoticed by hiding within the huge refugee flows to Europe at the time

“The Molenbeek cell investigation covered all of Europe, from refugees coming through the Balkans via Greece, to suspected financial support from jihadis in the UK, to movements throughout all Schengen member states and the UK and Norway,” said the official about the scope of the Bataclan investigation. 

“We discovered how terrorists and criminals could use holes in the system to move freely once they arrived inside Europe and spent five years and millions of Euros fixing this system the best we could and now after all that work, the UK has walked away from the effort.” 

The UK is good at generating terrorists

A French law enforcement source, who works directly on vetting travelers entering Schengen through France, said that the UK would be able to replicate most of the system eventually but at a huge cost of efficiency until a fuller system can be developed.

The official also noted what they described as the British government’s refusal to accept that most UK terrorism is generated internally, in terms of networks and cells. The UK generates many of its own terrorists, and is often as much a vector of terrorism as a victim. 

“The irony of the Brits wanting to get away from European regulators by adopting several new layers of bureaucratic regulations that will be required whenever they want to check if someone is a terrorist, is unsettling because it affects us as well,” said the police source, who works undercover and cannot be named. 

“The only country in Europe with as many active terrorists as France is the UK”

“The only country in Europe with as many active terrorists as France is the UK,” said the police official.

“People talked during Brexit about controlling their borders, OK, fine. But the UK did control its own borders, its participation in the Europol and Schengen databases was necessary in large part to protect Europe from British terrorists … there are more attacks in Europe by jihadists with links to the UK than there ever have been attacks in the UK linked to Europe. France has this problem as well – our people have been involved in attacks around Europe. And remember Bataclan was led by Belgians not French. This is why we are serious about international cooperation: Yes, we want to keep France safe but we are also obligated to keep the rest of the world safe from French terrorists.”

“The British are in the same situation as France,” in terms of internal terror threat, said the French official. “But, at least for now, they have chosen to make it more difficult and time-consuming to fight terrorism anywhere.”

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What happened last week? Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccine rollout widened, China targeted Jack Ma’s Alibaba, and the UK border with Europe closed.

Hospital Worker Santa Ears Italy December 2020 COVID 19.JPG
A medical worker inside an intensive care unit on December 22.

  • What happened last week?
  • By late Wednesday, the US hit a milestone: 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in 10 days. 
  • This week brought further scrutiny of Alibaba and Ant Group leader Jack Ma, both inside and outside China.
  • After being closed for days, the border between the UK and EU reopened. Of 2,637 drivers who had been tested by midday Thursday, only three tests came back positive, the UK secretary of transportation said on Twitter.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

What happened last week?

The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t slow down for the holiday week. Instead, it accelerated around the US, and the world. By midweek, almost 79 million cases were reported worldwide, with about 18.5 million in the US, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Los Angeles Country remained the US epicenter, although daily new cases in the state slipped to about 40,000, down from a record of 63,817 new cases on December 16. 

Only 1.1% of beds were available at California’s intensive care units, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday on Twitter. Frontline workers in the state begged people to stay home for the Christmas holiday.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines continued to roll out

San Diego California COVID 19 Vaccine Moderna December 2020.JPG
Medical assistant Charles Bowers receives a dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine in San Diego on Tuesday.

Doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were delivered to hospitals and clinics around the US last week. People getting doses won’t be able to choose which they receive, although there are some ways to tell which shot you’ll get.

On Monday, a few frontline workers shared their experience getting the vaccine with Business Insider. As lawmakers in Washington also began receiving their shots, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Rand Paul disagreed on on Monday about whether Washington should be prioritized.

By late Wednesday, the US hit a milestone: 1 million doses of the vaccine had been administered in 10 days. 

In a statement announcing the milestone, Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the vaccine was a “critical tool,” but more work needed to be done. 

He said: “But until every person in the US is able to get a COVID-19 vaccine, we continue to ask Americans to embrace proven public health strategies including social distancing, good hand hygiene, and wearing a mask in public to reduce the risk of transmission and protect our communities.”

China broadened its investigation into Jack Ma’s empire

jack ma alibaba
Alibaba founder Jack Ma in January 2018.

The Chinese government continued its investigation into the business empire built by Jack Ma, the country’s richest man. 

Alibaba founder Ma had planned to bring Ant Group to the public markets this year, with plans to raise about $34.5 billion. In November, those plans were put on hold, and later reports said the IPO might not happen in 2021 either. 

On Monday, reports said Ma had tried to schmooze China’s rulers by breaking up Ant Group, and handing parts over to the government. 

This week brought further scrutiny of Ma, both inside and outside China. On Wednesday, a report said that China had demanded that Alibaba process stolen US data

On Thursday, Chinese regulators said they’d launched an anti-monopoly investigation into Alibaba. Other government groups said they expected to hold talks with Ant Group, an affiliate. 

Shipments were backed up at the UK-EU border

EU UK Dover Trucks Closed.JPG
Drivers have warm drinks while they stand next to lorries parked on the M20 motorway, as EU countries impose a travel ban from the UK following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, near Ashford, Britain, Dec. 22.

Last Sunday, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, closed the UK-EU border, citing concerns about a new strain of coronavirus in the UK.

Early in the week, thousands of trucks waiting to cross the border lined up outside checkpoints. Salvation Army volunteers fed drivers, and Tesco warned of a fruit and vegetable shortage. By Wednesday, a small group of drivers had scuffled with police offers at the port. 

The port reopened late Wednesday, with officials on the ground doing COVID-19 tests on the thousands of drivers waiting to cross. 


On Thursday, Grant Shapps, secretary for transport, said 2,637 people had been tested by midday. Only three tests came back positive, he said on Twitter.

“As the EU Transport Commissioner has tweeted, testing hauliers is not recommended. Spending days in a lorry on your own puts you in an extremely low risk category,” he said. 

Here’s what happened the week before last. 

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Britain is sending 800 military personnel to its border with France as it tries to break the logjam of truck drivers stranded by COVID-19 restrictions

Truck driver tested for coronavirus
A firefighter swabs a lorry driver to test for Covid-19 on December 24, 2020 in Dover, United Kingdom. Travel from the UK to France is gradually resuming after being suspended due to concerns about a new strain of COVID-19.

  • Britain is sending 800 new military personnel to its border with France to help test thousands of stranded truck drivers for coronavirus.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron shut down the French border with the UK on Sunday amid Britain’s outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus.
  • The border reopened Tuesday, but anyone crossing must have a negative coronavirus test.
  • With thousands requiring testing, the British Army, French firefighters, and Polish soldiers are all assisting in efforts to break the logjam.
  • Out of almost 2,400 tests for truck drivers, only three have come back positive, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Christmas Eve.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Britain is sending almost 800 military personnel to its border with France in an attempt to clear a huge backlog of truck drivers attempting to leave the country amid the UK’s rapidly spreading outbreak of a new coronavirus variant.

Thousands of trucks and their drivers are stranded in Kent after French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday banned all UK travellers – including hauliers transporting goods – from entering France.

The ban effectively shut down the English Channel crossing to France, led to a rapid build up of heavy goods vehicles in and around the port of Dover, and resulted in long queues of lorries on England’s M20 highway. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also turned an airfield in Kent into a temporary parking lot for the thousands of trucks.

After talks with Johnson, Macron eased the ban on Tuesday, opening the border to anyone with a recent negative COVID-19 test, but with thousands of drivers stuck and more arriving each day, testing them all is a substantial challenge.

As a result, Britain’s transport secretary, Grant Shapps, confirmed that on Christmas Day some 800 personnel from British armed forces will be sent to assist testing efforts. According to the BBC, around 300 personnel were already in place, meaning a total of 1,100 have now been drafted in to help.

Eurotunnel Kent queues Brexit
Thousands of trucks are stranded near Britain’s border crossing with France.

Secretary Shapps said he has given “special instructions to the Army to take control of testing and HGV management operations,” Sky News reports.

“Our aim is to get foreign hauliers home with their families as quickly as we can,” he added, according to the BBC. “I know it’s been hard for many drivers cooped up in their cabs at this precious time of year, but I assure them that we are doing our utmost to get them home.”

Members of the French fire services, known as Sapeurs Pompiers, are also helping with testing efforts, while the Polish defense minister said that he is sending a team of territorial army soldiers to help out. A large number of the drivers stranded in Kent are from Poland.

Shapps said on Thursday that 2,367 truck drivers have so far been tested at the border, and only three have tested positive for the virus.

The area around the UK’s border crossing has seen fraught scenes this week, and on Wednesday, a handful of HGV drivers clashed with police. Volunteers from the Salvation Army, a charity usually focused on homelessness and disaster relief, were even drafted in to help feed stranded drivers.

The Channel crossing is perhaps the most important route for the UK and the EU’s trading relationship, accounting for a total of almost 138 billion euros ($168 billion) worth of trade, according to a 2018 report from EY.

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The UK and EU finally strike a Brexit trade deal

Michel Barnier
The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.

  • The UK and the European Union have finally struck a Brexit trade deal.
  • The agreement comes with less than a week to go until the UK is due to leave the EU’s trade rules on 11 p.m. December 31 London time, or 12 a.m. January 1 Brussels time.
  • They struck a last-minute deal on several thorny issues to avoid the worst-case scenario — a no-deal outcome.
  • The two sides now face a race against time to put the free trade deal into law before the New Year.
  • The trade deal will allow tariff-free trade to continue between the UK and the EU, but Brits can eventually expect widespread new barriers to trade and travel with the European continent.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The UK and the European Union have struck a free-trade deal after nearly a year of talks, UK officials announced on Thursday.

With less than a week to go until the end of the Brexit transition period – which is 11 p.m. December 31 in London, or 12 a.m. January 1 in Brussels – UK and EU officials confirmed they had finally agreed on the terms a deal after weeks of intensive talks in London and Brussels. Under the terms of the agreement, there will be zero tariffs and zero quotas on goods.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly spoke on the phone with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen multiple times this week to sign off the agreement after a final day of intensive talks about fishing quotas on Thursday.

“Everything that the British public was promised during the 2016 referendum and in the general election last year is delivered by this deal,” said a UK official who was speaking anonymously.

Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, said on Thursday: “It was worth fighting for this deal. We now have a fair & balanced agreement with the UK. It will protect our EU interests, ensure fair competition & provide predictability for our fishing communities. Europe is now moving on.”

Analysis: The end of Brexit uncertainty is a victory for Johnson

The deal brings to an end four years of uncertainty and delay, which economists believe have already marginally suppressed the growth rate of the British economy. It could save the UK from an even worse fate had no deal been signed: KPMG forecast British GDP growth would be 4.4% in 2021 without a deal, but could be as much as 10.1% if their trading arrangements remained largely the same.

Britain got an ugly taste of “no deal” earlier this week when France closed its side of the border with the UK to prevent the spread of the aggressive new coronavirus variant, which appears to have originated in Kent. Up to 10,000 trucks were stuck alongside the roads of Dover for the last four days. France has since reopened its border and the enormous jam is slowly clearing.

It also hands Johnson a significant political victory: He came to power on a promise of “get Brexit done” and at last the dream has become reality. The Conservative party will likely revel in the achievement. But with Brexit off the table as a political and economic issue, the coming year will probably refocus Britain on Johnson’s handling of the economy and the coronavirus crisis – two areas where he has underperformed. The UK was hit worse than most major economies during the pandemic lockdown.

Now, the details

The UK and the EU now face a race against time to put the deal into law before the New Year. The UK parliament is likely to be recalled next week for a vote on the deal, which is expected to pass comfortably given Johnson’s 80-seat majority in the Commons.

The UK negotiating team, led by David Frost, and its EU counterparts, fronted by Michel Barnier, had spent months wrangling over a handful of thorny issues including fishing rights, rules to prevent unfair competition between the two markets (known as the “level playing field”), and how the UK-EU trading relationship would be governed after Brexit.

Boris Johnson
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

A no-deal outcome would have resulted in costly tariffs on a range of goods sold between the UK and the EU. That in turn would have led to price rises in UK shops and made it harder for businesses to export their products to Europe.

However, even with a free trade deal agreed, there is still set to be disruption in January due to an array of new checks at Britain’s border with its biggest trading partner.

Britain is probably unprepared for the new terms of trade

Johnson’s government has admitted that thousands of UK businesses, particularly smaller ones, have been too busy dealing with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic to make necessary preparations for Brexit.

UK officials are bracing themselves for more long queues of lorries heading for Dover and ports elsewhere in the country early next year.

The negotiations nearly collapsed at the end of the summer when Johnson tabled legislation designed to unpick parts of Brexit Withdrawal Agreement covering Northern Ireland. His government has admitted that going ahead with the plan would break international law, prompting fury in Brussels and attracting criticism at home.

Johnson’s government agreed to remove the controversial clauses after UK and EU officials reached an agreement on how to implement the post-Brexit protocol for Northern Ireland. 

What will the trade deal mean for the UK?

Details of the deal are still emerging and the final text is expected to be over 1,000 pages in length.

However, this is what we know about the key elements of the deal.

Tariff-free trade will continue

trade uk eu
Lorries arrive and depart from Dover Ferry Terminal in England on April 26, 2018.

A tarriff-free deal will come as a welcome relief to many UK and EU businesses.

In a no-deal outcome, businesses in Britain and Europe would have been required to pay an additional tax on a wide range of goods imported from each one another.

This would make doing trade more expensive and led to companies raising the prices of everyday items like food and drink to make up for the extra cost.

But there will many new border checks

calais checks

However, there will be a host of new checks on goods crossing the border due to the UK’s decision to leave the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union.

Starting January 1, British businesses that export to Europe will have to submit customs declarations and other paperwork in order to get their goods across the border. UK officials estimate that there will be over 400 million additional customs checks a year on goods going to and from the EU.

There’ll also be costly processes for exporters of food, plant, and animal goods to the EU, due to the bloc’s strict health & safety rules.

This mountain of new red tape is why Johnson’s government is bracing itself for delays at the border early next year.

Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said last month that “inevitably” there would be a “rise” in traffic on Britain’s motorway in January, as businesses adapt to these major new rules and regulations.

The UK government has said there could be queues of up to 7,000 HGVs in a reasonable, worst-case scenario.

It is for these reasons that departing the EU with a trade deal is still set to leave the UK significantly worse off. The country’s long-term, economic output will be reduced by four percentage points, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility’s most recent forecast.

Britain will gain more control of its fishing waters

British fishermen

British fishermen are expected to gain a bigger share of fish caught in British waters as a result of the trade deal.

The exact details of the new arrangement are yet to be confirmed, but UK and EU negotiators have spent weeks tussling over what percentage of the value of fish caught by EU fisherman in British waters should be returned to Britain.

Multiple reports this week said that the two sides were moving towards a compromise of EU boats being allowed to keep around two-thirds. They have also been trying to agree on the length of a transition period during which the new arrangement will gradually come into effect. 

Any agreement on fishing will have had to garner the approval of French President Emmanuel Macron, who has warned throughout the Brexit process that he would not sacrifice the rights of France’s fishing industry in a deal with the UK.

Negotiators were also trying to reach a compromise over the length of an adjustment period during which the new rules for the fishing industry would gradually come into effect.

While fishing was seemingly been a make-or-break issue in these negotiations, the industry’s contribution to the UK economy is pretty negligible at less than 1%. However, it has been a totemic issue in the Brexit debate ever since the 2016 referendum campaign, largely due its connotations with sovereignty and control.

Travelling to the EU from the UK will become harder

eu passport

The UK’s decision to leave the European Single Market doesn’t just impact the movement of goods but that of people, too. This will still be the case despite Britain and the EU striking a free trade agreement.

People making trips to the EU lasting 90 days or more will need to secure a visa, and Brits heading for the continent for any length of time will be required to have their passports stamped when they leave and re-enter the UK. 

Those driving to the EU from next year will need to obtain a “green card” and a GB sticker, and in some EU countries will need an International Driving Permit.

Travellers will also need to take out new health insurance to replace the European Health Insurance Card, as the latter will no longer be valid for most Brits from next year.

Changes will affect pets, too. Those planning to take dog, cats, and ferrets with them to the EU will need to get their pets vaccinated at least three weeks before travelling.

They’ll also need to secure Animal Health Certificates at least ten days before departure, as the EU’s pet passports will no longer apply to British travellers.

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