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a Practical Guide
Updated October 2020
#CIPR / @CIPR_UK
The UK left the EU on January 31 2020 under the Withdrawal Agreement (WA).
The WA saw both parties enter into a transition period, during which time a future
trade agreement is being negotiated. The Transition Period is due to end on
December 31 2020.
At the time of writing, a No Deal (if a Free Trade Agreement is not reached) is still a
strong possibility. Negotiations are ongoing and the UK Government published its
plans for a ‘Reasonable Worst Case Scenario for borders at the end of the transition
period on 31 December 2020’.
Accordingly, the CIPR is advising members to consider how Brexit, including a “No Deal
Brexit”, will impact on their clients and employers and to make it a priority in their
The need for organisations of all kinds to make preparations for the end of the Transition
Period has been frequently stated. Public relations as a strategic management discipline
will have a significant role to play in ensuring organisations are prepared for the changes that
will follow the end of the Transition Period including a “no deal Brexit”.
Public relations should be at the heart of strategy – we contend that there is no organisational
objective that is not dependent to some extent on good communication and relationships,
to be delivered well. Public relations can also make a profound contribution to the management
of uncertainty. The changes that will follow the end of the Transition Period are going to be
deep and far reaching and there is a need for organisations to pay particular attention to their
stakeholder relationships. Dialogue, a critical part of stakeholder management, is one of
the underlying principles of public relations practice. Decision making is improved when
an organisation can understand and respond to the concerns of important groups. In a time
of deep uncertainty, these relationships take on a new significance as organisations seek to
maintain value as they navigate change.
Points to consider for the end of the Transition Period:
• Does your organisation have an overall approach to handling the end of the
• Do you understand the impact Brexit will have on your organisation?
• Do you understand how Brexit will affect your organisation’s stakeholders?
• If a Free Trade Agreement is not reached it will have an impact on your organisation/clients.
Do you have a communication plan for key stakeholders?
Preparing your organisation and scenario planning
There are a number of actions citizens and businesses can take now before the end of the
Transition Period in readiness for January 1 2021. Understanding potential scenarios your
organisation may face without a Free Trade Deal will also be imperative to providing timely
and clear communication to your customers, stakeholders and employees.
You should have a basic understanding of the processes surrounding the end of the
Transition Period so that you can work closely with your organisation or clients now to
help them prepare.
For further information on scenario planning please see our two Brexit scenario planning
reports from April 2018 and June 2018.
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The UK Government website contains a number of useful resources including a Transition
Checker. The website provides everything you need to check the guidance and advice on
how to implement changes. In particular, it provides information that may be relevant to you
or your staff on UK citizens living in the EU and for EU citizens living / working in the UK.
The European Commission have published information on preparing for the end of the
Transition Period, including a checklist for companies doing business with the UK. More details.
Understanding the changes
The following is a summary of some of the key challenges organisations will face at the end
of the Transition Period on December 31:
Copyright – New Intellectual Property regulations were introduced in 2019 and remove
or correct references to the EU, EEA, or member states in UK copyright legislation. The
regulations are due to come into force on January 1 2021 and are subject to amendments
depending on the outcome of the trade negotiations. More details.
Broadcasting and video on demand: Whether there is a deal or not, on January 1, 2021,
the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) and the country of origin principle will
no longer apply to services under UK jurisdiction that are broadcast into the EU, as the UK
would be classified as a third country. More details.
Traveling for work: You may not need to apply for a visa to travel or work in the EU,
depending on what kind of business you will be conducting. You will also need to make sure
you have enough validity on your passport and have travel insurance if planning a trip.
Structuring your business and Cross-border business operations – UK citizens who own,
manage or direct a company registered in the EU may face restrictions on their ability to
continue doing on January 1 2021. These restrictions and changes will differ depending on
sector and the country in which the business is operating. More details.
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Workplace rights – In most cases there will be no changes to workplace rights.
However, there will be some changes to rules on:
• employer insolvency for UK employees working in the EU
• membership of European Works Councils
VAT – The government have published various guidance on how VAT rules for UK businesses
trading with EU countries, including matters relations to exporting and importing goods and
services, and doing overseas business. More details.
Data Protection – The EU has committed to begin an adequacy assessment of the UK
following the end of the transition period. The government recommends you should act
if you want to ensure you can continue to receive personal data from EU/EEA countries.
Further information on data protection and Brexit can be found on the Information
Commissioner’s Office website. More details.
Geo-blocking of online content – You do not need to make any changes to how you provide
goods and services if you already meet the EU Geo-Blocking Regulation. You must follow
the EU Geo-Blocking Regulation to sell goods and services into the EU after the Transition
Period. You do not need to follow the EU Geo-Blocking Regulation if you are selling goods
and services in the UK to UK customers. More details.
Consumer Rights – Most businesses will not need to take any action except to continue to
comply as normal with UK consumer law. The government has published details on consumer
rights and businesses, buying things from Europe, selling to the EU, and cross border
enforcement. More details.
Mobile roaming – Many operators have stated they have no current plans to change their
mobile roaming policies. However, surcharge-free roaming when travelling to the EU and EEA
may no longer be guaranteed. The government has legislated to protect consumers from
unexpected charges. More details.
Traveling within the Common Travel Area – If you are an Irish citizen living in the UK or a
British citizen living in Ireland the Common Travel Area (CTA) arrangements allow you to travel
freely within the CTA without seeking permission from the authorities. More details.
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Federation of Small Business – Brexit Guidance for Small Businesses
Confederation of British Industry (CBI) – Transition Hub
British Chambers of Commerce – Business Brexit checklist
Institute of Directors (IoD) – Navigating Brexit for Business
Institute for Government – No deal Brexit preparations
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation – Brexit Hub
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) –
Practical guides on Brexit
Tech UK – Brexit Hub
CIPR’s Brexit page
CIPR Public Relations and Policy Manager, Jon Gerlis
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