London: Britons trying to buy things from the European Union face higher charges and slower processing times, unless the UK government can secure a Brexit deal, according to official analysis published on Thursday.
Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab published 25 technical notes setting out how businesses and citizens should prepare for the possibility of talks with the bloc collapsing. While he is keen to minimise such problems and emphasise that life will continue as usual, the papers list a series of areas where companies and voters will face difficulties.
“It is not what we want,” Raab said in a speech in London. “And it is not what we expect, but we have to be ready.”
Many of these are in the area of financial services, where the UK is tightly integrated into the EU’s structure. The nine-page banking document warns that British companies will lose access to European payments infrastructure such as TARGET2 and the Single Euro Payments Area.
Customers “could face increased costs and slower processing times for Euro transactions,” the paper says. “The cost of card payments between the UK and EU will likely increase.”
That’s because an EU rule preventing surcharges on transactions would no longer apply. Meanwhile, people in Europe who rely on UK banking services “may lose the ability to access lending and deposit services, insurance contracts.” Without saying so explicitly, this could affect British retirees living in EU countries such as Spain that receive their pensions in UK banks.
At an institutional level, UK investment banks will have more difficulty selling services into the EU. The government concedes it won’t be able to guarantee the derivatives contracts will still operate between EU and UK forms. UK exchanges may not be able to list EU companies.
Other businesses that trade with the EU are urged to “take account of the volume of their trade.” Goods coming in and leaving would need customs declarations and importers would need to register. These extra series of steps will inevitably raise prices for British consumers.