Writing on behalf of the Kent Invicta Chamber of commerce, Emanuele Maindron-Brisley shares details of the Chamber Network Brexit hub, a resource designed to give businesses access to valuable information as they try and navigate the considerable uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
The announcement that British citizens would soon have to pay £7 for a 3-year visa to visit countries in the EU Schengen zone has been met with criticism in a number of media outlets.
This “Schengen visa”, called ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization”), is merely the European equivalent to the U.S. ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization, US$14) or the Australian ETA (Electronic Travel Authority, A$20) – both at a cost slightly over £11. The EU electronic system is similarly designed to improve the management and security of EU borders in a context of terrorism and migrant crisis. It will apply from 2021 to citizens of countries that can currently enter the EU zone visa-free. This already applies to citizens from Monaco, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia or Montenegro. After Brexit, the system will apply to British citizens as well, and it is nothing to do with a retribution tool for Brexit – as some commentators suggest.
EU citizens living in the UK are also unsure about their rights. The ‘settled status’ that they will be able to apply for from the 30st March 2019 – at the cost of £65 per person aged 16+ – will not grant them permanent residency and it will require quite a lot of paperwork: a bank account, employer letter, P60, P45, council tax bills, bank statements, and more. It is a bit hard to swallow for residents who have contributed to the economy and their community, in some cases for several decades.
Many employers are well aware of the concerns felt by their EU staff, which adds another factor to the uncertainty currently penalising UK businesses. Even if the status of EU staff will not change before 2021, both employees and employers are eager for some stability. How can companies reassure and retain their EU staff? In certain sectors of the UK economy, finding the answer to this question is vital: some NHS trusts have confirmed that they will reimburse their EU staff for costs incurred in gaining settled status, a move which has also been encouraged by UNISON, the public service union, and several other organisations. However, some businesses in industries that pay low wages – warehousing, care homes or catering & hospitality – may not be able to afford this additional cost.
What is clear is that so much uncertainty is bad for the business community. And at the time of writing, when clarity may finally come is far from clear. So all we can really do for now is make the best decisions we can with the information that is available, and monitor key areas of uncertainty for signs of some form of resolution.
The Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce is at the forefront of supporting Kent & Medway businesses with the latest news regarding the dealings with the EU – through export documentation, its employer toolkit and more. In an effort to help give the business community as much valuable information as possible, we have recently shared details of the Chamber Network Brexit Hub. This Brexit hub is about supporting businesses through the changes that are coming, with resources, options, advice and FAQs. As negotiations continue (or stall), the British Chambers of Commerce will assess progress on 24 business-critical issues with green, amber and red lights indicators. In the latest Business Brexit Risk Register published on the 18th of December 2018, 15 items out of 24 remained in red.
For more info head to www.kentinvictachamber.co.uk/brexit-hub/