European Commission steps up customs preparedness for 'no-deal' Brexit among EU businesses

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Anti-Brexit, pro-EU supporters hold placards during a protest near the Houses of Parliament in London, June 20, 2018. The divisions opened up by the 2016 referendum have not healed, but hardened, splitting Britain into two camps: leavers and remainers. Almost the only thing the two groups share is pessimism about the way Brexit is going. (Photo: AP)

BRUSSELS, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- The European Commission on Monday stepped up its "no-deal" outreach to EU businesses in the area of customs and indirect taxation such as VAT, to prepare for a "no-deal" scenario when the United Kingdom is set to leave the EU on Mar. 29.

The outreach campaign launched on Monday is part of the Commission's ongoing efforts to prepare for the UK's exit of the European Union without a deal, in line with the European Council (Article 50) conclusions of December 2018, calling for intensified preparedness for all scenarios, said a Commission press release.

The campaign is expected to help inform businesses that want to continue trading with the UK after Mar. 29 on what they need to do to ensure a smooth transition and avoid possible business disruption.

Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Pierre Moscovici said: "With the risk of a no-deal Brexit increasing as we get closer to Mar. 29, the European Commission and national customs authorities are working hard to be ready to introduce checks and controls on goods flowing between the EU and the UK. "

"This is key to protecting our consumers and our internal market. A lot depends on the ability of businesses trading with the UK to get up to speed with the customs rules that will apply on day one in case of no deal," he noted.

The launch also aims to raise awareness amongst the EU's business community, especially small and medium-sized enterprises.

A range of material is made available in all EU languages on Monday to businesses, including a simple 5-step checklist, providing an overview of the steps that need to be taken.

Preparatory work, supported by the Commission, is also underway in EU member states to ensure that national customs infrastructure and logistics are ready to deal with a no-deal scenario, said the release.