By Yasmine Lingmann

Business closures. Curfews. Social gatherings controlled. Face masks. Zoom fatigue. These are just a few of the consequences we are all having to accept in this never-ending Corona driven mess. But students are arguably one of the worst affected groups for two main reasons: they are the least likely to experience anything but mild symptoms, and these measures are therefore sacrificial; and the crucial opportunities and experiences needed for students to thrive and pave their way in the competitive world we live in are being snatched beneath our eyes- deteriorating the nations’ future workforce and economy.

I started working for the British Chamber of Commerce in July, right in the midst of it all, in a team of 6 student interns on our Erasmus year abroad as part of our university degree. Our interviews were held online during lockdown, with hopes that things would soon resume back to normal so that we could move to Brussels for the year. It’s now our third month of working remotely, having only met our colleagues virtually. This being said, we are lucky. As a team we have managed to get on despite only meeting online, and our colleagues have been nothing but accommodating and understanding. Many of our friends at university have had their year abroad cancelled altogether, or are unable to work remotely; having to settle for online learning courses that do not in any way make up for the loss of their Erasmus plans. Not only this- many of us are unable to receive the grant we have been promised, leaving students with little money to make the most of the year. Everything we had hoped for- exploring a new city, developing our foreign language skills, networking with professionals and learning from watching colleagues at work- has been taken away from us.

British students are paying the same price this year for worse educational development, economic prospects and social progression. With freshers struggling to settle in their new environments and unable to socialise: mental and physical health are at risk. This is the cohort that has already undergone significant hardship: they missed their last few months of school or college, were unable to sit their exams, and, many of whom were allocated A-level grades that in some cases bore no resemblance to what they had been predicted. University students have already been home from university since March and lost lecture hours due to teacher strikes throughout the year. Although the physical health of students is at low risk from Covid-19, their emotional, educational and economic wellbeing have been jeopardised more than any other age group’s.

The impacts this will have on the wider society are huge. In terms of domestic students, Resolution Foundation has revealed that more than a third of 18-24 year olds have been furloughed or lost their main job since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Employers are seeking 32% fewer entrants on apprentice or school leaver programmes than originally planned for this year, while graduate jobs have been cut by 12%. Internships and placements will also slump by 40%. There are already half a million young people unemployed and more than a million displaced from sectors most affected by Covid-19. The Institute for Employment Studies think that that in the medium term youth unemployment could exceed 2 million. A wide range of research suggests that spending more than six months unemployed at this age can have a significant long-term impact on their careers. Organisations such as Youth Employment UK are fighting to address the consequences Covid-19 will have on the wages and job prospects of ‘Corona Class of 2020’.

International students have been deeply impacted, too. This is significantly problematic given that in 2018/19 teaching of overseas students generated an estimated surplus of £1.7 billion or 43% in England and Northern Ireland combined, home student numbers have remained relatively static. China is by far the largest source of international students with just over 120,000 in 2018/19. Travel restrictions, as well as virtual lessons causing many students to defer or drop out, have caused a large fall in demand for British higher education from overseas. The short term and long term income generated by higher education to the national economy will continue to fall if changes are not made.

This being said- businesses are responding. According to a study done be LSE in July 2020, over 60% of firms adopted new digital technologies and management practices; and around a third invested in new digital capabilities. These process and product innovations are generally considered to have had a positive impact on performance, and businesses expect to maintain them post-crisis. This ‘Virtual Revolution’ offers many opportunities to technology prone students and according to most firms, will increase employee productivity rather than reduce the need for employees over time. Therefore, students can and should continue to be offered opportunities, and businesses will actually save more by doing so.

The Coronavirus Cohort will gain the strength and drive that businesses seek in their employees. This disruption will create new opportunities: a generation of students that have no choice but to adapt and innovate. Firms will need to give a helping hand to students through internships and work experience in order to get the economy back on track- but this effort is guaranteed to pay for itself for many years to come.


Here at the British Chamber of Commerce, we will continue to update you with the necessary information to help all our members to succeed. 
We are all in this together, and with the right plans in place, consumer confidence can be restored. BritCham offers support, guidance and specialised coverage for both Brexit and COVID-19, including webinars, workshops and events that will give your firm the tools it needs to navigate through this challenging period. Click here to register: https://www.britishchamber.be/upcoming-events

By Yasmine Lingemann

Belgians are big savers. According to recent figures released by the National Bank of Belgium (BNB), Belgians have reached a record high in average household savings, with figures reaching 290 billion euros in aggregate regulated savings accounts. On average, the household savings ratio in Belgium is 12.6%, which by comparison is just over double that of the UK, where households save 6.2% of their disposable income. Belgians have traditionally saved a lot, yet even in an era of zero or negative interest rates on savings, the lack of spending is beginning to become problematic and even a hinderance to the national economy.

Globally, the Coronavirus pandemic has hurt economies everywhere. With firms in the UK and Europe also having to simultaneously adapt and create contingency plans to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition, businesses face the situation where they need to use alternative methods to attract clients and re-establish confidence in their company. In Belgium, that means trying to encourage people to spend more and save less at the same time as rising unemployment, weakening job security, and people generally tightening their belts and restricting spending to the bare necessities.

Despite this, firms must not lose hope: Now is the time to seek new opportunities. Businesses are responding, many are offering their goods and services in a different way. In Belgium, where consumers have traditionally been less open to online commerce, increased time at home in front of a screen enables households to be more susceptible to e-commerce and advertising. Businesses must use this time to improve communication and dialogue with their clients to reestablish trust and retain brand loyalty. Getting active online and keeping your customer base up to date on changes will help businesses in the long run and hasten the adoption of a more digitalised economy.

Belgium government support has not been as forthcoming as in the UK. However there are a variety of loans and tax deferral schemes that have been put in place to weaken the damage felt by Belgian firms.

Click here for Belgium’s government website to see how your business can benefit from the support available: https://www.belgium.be/en

Here at the British Chamber of Commerce, we will continue to update you with the necessary information to help all our members to succeed. We are all in this together, and with the right plans in place, consumer confidence can be restored. BritCham offers support, guidance and specialised coverage for both Brexit and COVID-19, including webinars, workshops and events that will give your firm the tools it needs to navigate through this challenging period.

See our website here for more details on how we can help you: https://www.britishchamber.be/

The practical implications of Brexit on everyday UK-EU trade is becoming clearer week by week. This week, Amazon announced changes affecting Amazon sellers, customs briefings and enquiries ramped up, and the impact on product availability and businesses started to become evident. The detail is very welcome, and helps businesses prepare further. For some, the impact will be more difficult to manage and will effect consumer choice, price and availability.

The UK government’s publication of its border operating model provided traders and logistics operators with more detailed information on the requirements for UK exports and imports. While much of the overall approach was predictable, the details of the arrangements make clear the challenges that traders will have to adapt to, and the costs likely to be incurred.

This week, retail giant Amazon announced the end of Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) for UK sellers delivering to customers in the single market (and vice-versa). Sellers will now have to divide their inventory between UK and EU-Based Fulfilment Centres to avoid losing sales in either market.

This will raise the cost of reaching customers through increased storage and transaction costs of shipping their goods to warehouses in both markets. With Amazon putting in transitional measures before 1st January 2021, sellers Christmas trade may be affected too.

As so often, it’s the detail that counts. The UK’s plan to introduce postponed VAT accounting will be a boon to the cashflow of UK importers. But some businesses are beginning to see additional unwelcome challenges. For example, fresh fruit and vegetables delivered by air from Africa to the UK and its Benelux neighbours are distributed across the region. Since these goods movements will now need phytosanitary checks at the entry point, the opening hours of phyto offices at ports and airports now become a critical factor in avoiding lengthy delays.

With the time for preparation now short, the UK government is stepping up its communications to businesses with webinars for Belgian and Irish firms this week and more to come.

With its network of expert members and the backup of its UK chambers, Britcham is there to help you. If you have questions, contact us at BusinessContinuity@britishchamber.eu

Glenn Vaughan – Senior Adviser

UK Govt – Border Operating Model: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/899991/200713_BPDG_-_Border_Operating_Model_FINAL_1320_edit.pdf

The UK Government has published its long awaited border operating model. It makes clear how the border with the EU will work – at least in most cases. But some important questions remain, and the cost to business, in customs administration work alone, will be substantial. The government has responded to some key demands from British Chambers of Commerce for measures to improve cash flow. But if there’s not a deal, the cost will be higher again – and key questions remain unanswered.

While businesses will welcome more detail on processes for trading goods overseas, some questions still remain unanswered, including on trade across the Northern Ireland border and the operation of the Goods Vehicle Management System. We will continue to look at the detail and how it affects businesses over the coming weeks.

The Border Operating Model provides clarity and certainty for the border industry and businesses, including technical detail on how the border with the EU will work after the transition period and the actions that traders, hauliers, ports and carriers need to take. It covers all of the processes and systems, across all government departments, that will be used at the border. It provides clarity on the end to end journey for moving goods across the border – with information about controlled goods and new government systems that will support trade.

To help businesses prepare for these changes and continue to trade, guides on how to import and export goods are available in the form of a ‘journey’ (see below). That’s important since so many UK based companies currently trade only with the EU. They need to clearly see every step they need to take to ensure that their goods are transported successfully.

This will cost businesses money. With full border controls in place at all ports from January 1st next year, regardless of any deal that is agreed with the EU, an estimated 200 million more customs declarations will need to be made by traders annually. At a cost of £20 to £45 per declaration the cost to business could be in the region of £4bn to £9bn.

The UK government has listened to the British Chamber network and reintroduced Postponed VAT Accounting, as well as allowing the deferment of duty and VAT on EU imports for at least 6 months from January 2020.   And many businesses will appreciate the introduction of bond-free duty deferment accounts, which will provide much needed help to cashflow for businesses and reduce import costs.

Along with the European Commission’s Communication last week on preparing for the end of the transition period, it’s clear firms that import and export across the UK-EU border should take action now including the appointment of customs intermediaries and addressing approvals and certifications.

With its network of expert members and the backup of its UK chambers, Britcham is there to help you. If you have questions, contact us at BusinessContinuity@britishchamber.eu

Glenn Vaughan – Senior Adviser

Hyperlinks also below.

UK Govt – Border Operating Model: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/899991/200713_BPDG_-_Border_Operating_Model_FINAL_1320_edit.pdf

How to import and export goods between Great Britain and the EU from 1 January 2021: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-import-and-export-goods-between-great-britain-and-the-eu-from-1-january-2021

European Commission – Getting ready for the end of the transition period: https://ec.europa.eu/info/european-union-and-united-kingdom-forging-new-partnership/future-partnership/getting-ready-end-transition-period_en

Last week’s virtual summit of EU leaders discussed the proposal for a revised long term budget and EU Recovery Plan – put together by the Commission in double quick time. Much of the discussion between member states is inevitably informed by a calculation of who gets what and who pays, so it will not be easy or very quick. But the effectiveness of the EU response will really depend on how the money is spent and avoiding the temptation to create new barriers to business.

At the end of May 2020, the European Commission presented its proposal for a comprehensive reconstruction plan. 750 billion will be mobilised for the “Next Generation EU” action. In addition, the long-term EU budget 2021-2027 will be increased to a total of EUR 1.85 trillion.

The Commission says the plans will deliver resources at the scale and speed needed and focused on green and digital as engines of growth as well as increased resilience for Europe’s ‘open strategic autonomy’ model. It also emphasises the importance of avoiding fragmentation of the single market. Good to hear.

The package focuses mainly on cohesion and recovery along with a boost to Horizon Europe and more money for the planned Just Transition Fund for decarbonisation, and a new health program.

The biggest lump of cash – a new Recovery and Resilience Facility of €560 billion – will offer financial support for investments and reforms with a grant facility of up to €310 billion, and will be able to make up to €250 billion available in loans.

The scale and effectiveness of spending will be central, but it also needs broader global coordination. As pointed out by JBCE (Japan Business Council in Europe) recently, this is not just about the EU alone. So the EU’s response needs to be timely, but also coordinated wherever possible through multilateral and bilateral action. More important for the medium term, the EU’s openness to trade, ideas, innovation and people needs to be part of the answer.

The recovery plan will be based on a model of “open strategic autonomy” and there has been much made of the need to strengthen and diversify supply chains. While that’s undoubtedly true, there’s always a risk that the need to protect its people and companies can be used to push a protectionist agenda. 

That’s why it will remain important for business to make the case, loudly and persistently that recovery will be built on international cooperation and free and fair trade, as well as a vibrant single market and that Europe remains #Open4business

Glenn Vaughan – Senior Adviser

If you have any income that you receive in the UK and are unclear how to declare this in your Belgian income tax declaration, here’s some advice from Eric Laurent. If you need more, sign up for our webinar on Wednesday 24 June, especially as the deadline for personal tax declarations is 30 June!

Eric is a Partner at ERYV – a family business working in accountancy and tax that have been operating in the Belgian market for over 30 years! Eric is a chartered accountant & tax adviser who specialises in cross-border income.

When you are working, or residing, in Belgium you have to file a Belgian tax return. The principle in international taxation is that you have to declare your worldwide income in the country you are residing in. So if you are an expat, it is likely that you have some kind of foreign income; perhaps from interest earned from a savings account or rental income.

You have to report this information in your tax return, but don’t worry you shouldn’t be charged twice! Some tax treaties in place prevent you from being charged twice but this depends on the type of income for example, or on the specific articles from the bilateral tax treaty between Belgium and the source country.

In Belgium, for individuals, you can file a resident tax return or a non-resident tax return. For a resident tax return in Belgium you must declare your worldwide income. This applies even if you are working outside of Belgium. Even if you have had your contract terminated, or you have changed jobs or maybe you have retired, you are still a Belgian resident and have to go through the same process.

For non-resident there are several sub-categories: there are those who are in Belgium under the special regime of taxation for foreign executives, a very special category; there are also those who don’t live in Belgium but do generate some income there.

In addition, there are some people who have a specific status and have to find their way into the resident or non-resident category. These are the people that either work for the Commission or another EU institution or someone working for an international or government organisation like NATO or for a foreign embassy for example.

This touches upon a few issues but greater explanation will be given during the webinar on Wednesday 24 June. The following subjects will be covered during the webinar:

  • Concept of Belgian tax residency
  • Consequence: taxation (declaration) of worldwide income
  • Tax treaty: which state has the right to tax
  • Tax treaty: how to avoid double taxation
  • How declaring UK real estate income in Belgium
  • How declaring foreign professional income in Belgium
  • How declaring foreign financial income in Belgium
  • Other items linked to foreign assets:  bank accounts, life insurance, legal structures

Need to know more? Register here

I wouldn’t say I’m an old hand at AGM’s but I’ve sat through quite a few and organised some too.  But this year was another new experience, and somewhat of a challenge – the Chamber’s first digital AGM. 

Over the last few months’ we’ve all discovered the joys of Zoom, particularly the ease of moving from one meeting to another and how good it is to be able to meet with people whatever their location.  AGM’s, however, are a very particular kind of meeting and the governance requirements impose some challenges.  They are a hybrid between a presentation and a meeting and need to allow maximum participation from all who attend.  The Chamber team did some extensive research and trialling of other platforms.  There are some fabulous webinar platforms available but the need for flexible participation pulled us back to Zoom.

So, to the Chambers 110th AGM.  We had near 100% attendance from those registered (another benefit of remote meetings) and a very interactive meeting.  It’s my observation that remote meeting platforms allow participants to contribute more, it is easier to speak and less intimidating for those who might be intimidated.  On a meeting platform there is no separation in any way between speakers and ‘audience’ and this creates a different dynamic. 

While AGM’s legally are focussed on reviewing the previous year, the current circumstances necessitate more focus on the now and the future.  Our President, Tom Parker reiterated how central the Chamber is for businesses who are active in the UK-Belgian space and after his review of the year the ‘floor’ was taken by our new CEO Dan Dalton.  Dan brings his wealth of experience as an MEP to the Chamber at exactly the right time – his stature and connections will enhance the Chamber, attract more members and give top level insight into the pivotal relationship as the UK negotiates its future trade relationship with the EU. 

We had presentations from our key committees: the EU Committee, the Future Relations Committee and the Business, Trade and Investment Committee.  There are exciting times ahead for the Chamber in all these areas and there is a key message – be involved, this is your Chamber, we represent your interests and want to understand more how we can work effectively to support your business. 

So, now the less exciting stuff – writing minutes and following up with the our new Council members.  Actually, just kidding, I love this stuff and good governance is the bedrock of effective and appropriate decision making.  It’s a privilege to be part of this and to support the Chamber and our members in these challenging times.  I hope that next year we can see each other in person and look back on a very particular time. 

Melanie Barker – Membership and Operations Manager

Our pre-COVID-19 photoshoot

The impact of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown measures have affected each of us in different ways. It’s caused health issues that have changed the lives of many, whilst others have been left unscathed. It’s also freed the time of thousands of people who’ve been placed under the furlough scheme, whilst the days of others have become substantially busier for a number of different reasons.  
However we’ve all had to learn what it’s like to stay at home, and for most of us, to work from home as well.

March 13th marked the last day that the BritCham team worked in the office. The original plan was to work from home and the situation would be assessed every two weeks – over two months later we are still working from home.

You’d be forgiven if at first you thought that we would not have much to do at the Chamber, as much of our business revolves around hosting events and facilitating networking between companies. But in reality we’ve been far busier than usual! We’ve continued to support our Members through council, by hosting various webinars, by offering opportunities for our Membership to join the webinars hosted by other Members to support businesses throughout these times of crises, whilst continuing to comment on the development of the negotiations about the future relationship between the UK and the EU.

There’s no doubt that the sudden change to the home-office was difficult at first. I struggled to maintain my productivity during the first week with distractions from my Mum wanting to chat, from my dog wanting to play, and from my mind wanting to wonder! But I’ve since found a routine that works for me and the days feel more productive now than they were during the time that I was working in the office.

Outside of work I’ve also found that there are now more hours in the day to do things that I didn’t have the time to do before. The commute would take 45 minutes before and after work, and having after work drinks would often result in doing nothing but cooking food, watching an episode of something on Netflix, and then falling asleep once I got home.

With less time wasted and less distractions, I’ve found myself having the time to read, write, and exercise more regularly and I feel better for it.

Though I hope for the restrictions to be lifted soon, I also hope that some of these good habits will stay!

Whilst gauging the wellbeing of the rest of the team is not as easy as it was in the pre-Covid era as the routine lunch time conversations or the daily catch-ups around the lunch table are not taking place, it seems as though our team all seem to be mastering the working-from-home routine, and all seem to be relatively content with the status quo. Every Thursday we have a quiz on Zoom that I’m yet to win (the questions are rubbish..), but it’s good to have a weekly catch-up outside of work.

It is strange to consider how things will be once all lockdown restrictions are lifted and when that eventually might be. You’d like to think that the quizzes that we’re having at present will take place in person as opposed to on Zoom. However, further questions spring to mind about how different things might be when we finally emerge from this: how will we be expected to greet one another if we’re not supposed to shake hands? Is the elbow tap going to stay?

One thing that’s apparent is that businesses have demonstrated their resilience to survive by adapting to the current circumstances and putting in place certain mechanisms to ensure that they’re able to continue to do their work.

This is illustrated by the fact that thousands of businesses have been able to implement a work from home policy for all staff when this would have been an absurd notion only a few months ago.

Whether you prefer to work from home or at the office the long term-effect is likely to be significant.

Geography may no longer matter when applying for roles. Having demonstrated the ability to work remotely for a company in Brussels from my home in Cardiff, what’s to stop others from applying for similar roles but establishing these living arrangements from the first day?

The technological leaps that have been taken on the masses have indicated to me how interconnected the general population, and the global business community has the potential to be.

The impacts of the lockdown may change the way companies hire people from here onwards, which is exciting! 

Still, the thought of working from home permanently is not necessarily something that’s appealing to me. I do miss the human interactions that working in an office with my colleagues brings.

Who knows what the long term impacts of this pandemic may be? All that I know is that I’m looking forward to returning to the office at some point, and I’m fed up of Zoom!

Tomos Ireland-Life – Communications Officer

There are many outstanding issues still to be negotiated as part of the future relationship between the EU and the UK, however one area where there shouldn’t be much disagreement is over the British government request to join the Lugano Convention.

There should be an overwhelming interest for both sides to keep the existing relations in this field. The consequences would be severe and very negative for businesses and consumers on both sides of the Channel should there be no agreement to continue enforcement of civil and commercial judgments.

The Lugano Convention covers cross border enforcement of civil and commercial legal judgements. It applies between the EU and Switzerland, Norway and Iceland and sits alongside the Brussels 1 Regulation rules for the EU member states.

Although the UK will not be an EFTA member, the Convention is also open to non-members, such as the UK. In addition, the existing ETFA members (Norway, Iceland and Switzerland) have all supported the UK’s accession.

The decision to support the UK’s application should not be overly controversial. It eliminates the need for multiple legal actions in different countries, and the risk that companies can’t get their assets that are in other countries. As a result, the system significantly reduces the risk of doing business with someone in another country. Once a judgment is reached under the system, enforcement is rarely contested.

Without this system in place businesses will need to calculate for potentially multiple actions in different countries, especially in cases related to assets that are in another country.

Without Lugano accession enforcement of judgments will no longer happen automatically and the result is likely to lead to the other business party challenging the judgment. This can open up multiple issues, such as whether the compensation that the first court awarded is acceptable or whether the original judgment is questioned by the enforcing court. All substantive laws as to how disputes are settled are different from one European country to another and the Lugano/Brussels system is the only way to smooth these differences over and ensure that a pan-Continental dispute settlement system can work.

Most businesses aim to reduce these risks by agreeing choice of court clauses. Brussels I and Lugano reduce the risk further by setting the rules under which the choice of court clauses are respected by all. As national laws differ on this point, without the overarching framework, there is still the risk of litigation surrounding whether the choice of court clause that you have negotiated and expected to be able to rely on, is in fact valid.

If a business ends up in litigation, much more expense is needed to solve what are essentially procedural issues (such as whether you are in the right court that has the power to solve issue). Litigation also lasts longer as there are more complex issues to be solved. In addition, the end result can still be questioned by another court, costing businesses even more money.

This significantly raises the cost of doing business and this will often have bigger impact on SMEs. Smaller companies, without large legal departments, would have to budget for costs that have not existed in Europe since the 1970s, when the first Brussels convention came into force creating the system which is now applied throughout Europe.

Consumers on both sides of the channel also risk losing out, as under this system the legal system used is based on where the consumer is based, allowing consumers to easily get legal remedy. Without this, consumers buying across borders will be at a serious disadvantage and will find it far harder to enforce their rights.

The damage will not just be inflicted on UK based businesses and consumers. Those based in the EU will also suffer significantly and needlessly if there is no agreement on this point.

All trade needs a secure legal system to underpin it. We have one which already exists, and which works well. This hugely benefits businesses and if the UK does not have access to it, it will significantly increase the cost and reduce the amount of trade that will take place between the EU and UK.

The British government has recognised the benefits which comes with staying in the system. Switzerland, Iceland and Norway want the UK in the system. We urge the European Union to recognise this and ensure that the UK can swiftly accede to the Lugano Convention. In doing so cross border trade, which already faces significant challenges post Brexit, will at least be underpinned by a common legal system for civil and commercial trade.

Daniel Dalton – CEO

As part of the VAT consequences of the departure of the UK from the EU, Belgian VAT authorities have officially communicated to business their position as to the need for UK established companies, that currently are VAT registered in Belgium via a direct VAT registration, to appoint an individual fiscal representative as a result of Brexit.

The letter of the Belgian VAT authorities confirms that UK established taxable persons will have to fulfil the VAT obligations which are imposed on all VAT taxable persons who are not established in the EU. The most significant VAT obligation is the requirement to appoint an individual fiscal representative for VAT in Belgium.

Because of the general nature of this obligation, UK established companies will no longer be able to operate a direct VAT registration as from the date Brexit will be effective, in principle 30 March 2019.

To discuss this, please feel free to get in touch with Peter Empsten (details below) and ensure your business meets this new administrative formality. Peter will also be able to share a letter from the Belgian VAT authorities outlining the change.

Peter Empsten – Head of Indirect Tax

Crowe VAT Representation 

E-MAIL : peter.empsten@crowe.be

Although those headlines that tell you robots are going to steal your job can be disheartening, the overarching message that came from last week’s panel was a positive one. Though the term Artificial Intelligence may seem scary, the panel reminded us that we actually already use A.I everyday – when we search Google, choose from recommendations on Netflix or Spotify or find more similar products on Amazon. Overall, the discussion made it clear that as automation advances, it will be the most human-centric skills that become the most valuable.

Expert Panel_3

On the 12th February, our Chief Executive Glenn Vaughan chaired an expert panel discussion on automation at The British School of Brussels, in collaboration with AmCham Belgium. Discussing the ‘Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained: workforce transitions in an age of automation’ McKinsey Global Institute report from 2017, the panel provided a great insight for the future workfoce – the students from BSB and other local schools – as well as the current one – parents and corporate representatives from across Brussels.

Key note speaker Jacques Bughin, Director of MGI and co-author of the report, gave the message that instead of fearing this new technology and worrying about what jobs it might take away, it is better to view these new advancements as opportunities and seize each one. Jacques’ confidence that it is not that today’s jobs will all disappear, that instead they will transition as they have done in the past and it is up to us to decide how these transitions unfold, was an aspirational takeaway for the audience.

Catherine Stewart, Senior Advisor at Interel Group, was clear that there are still ways to stay ahead of the automation trend. Though machines and A.I are advancing in cognitive tasks related to memory and learning new information, they lack our people skills and emotional intelligence. Catherine’s advice to the future workforce, and also to the current one, is “learn to be clear, constructive, creative and adaptable, learn to listen and to challenge in a positive way” in order to thrive.

‘The high-skill, high-pay jobs of the future may involve skills better measured by EQs (a measure of emotional intelligence) than IQs’

Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England

Angela Dong, Senior Vice President Human Resources, Research & Innovation, Solvay, is witnessing the A.I transition first hand, and advised the audience that in fact, not everyone needs to master the potentials from A.I and new technology, but to stand out you will need to understand what it is that it can help you achieve.

Melanie Warnes, Principal and CEO of The British School of Brussels, concluded the panel discussion in agreement with the other panellists that the way the future workforce interact with each other, human to human, will be crucial, and that an optimistic view on the topic remains important.

Expert Panel_4

Though automation may be on the rise, the take home message of the night was to take a positive outlook – the robots won’t beat us yet!

‘The future is not predictable, it is to be shaped’

Jacques Bughin

 

 

Saturday, the 27th January, marks the annual International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, as designated by the United Nations (UN).

It’s a day to commemorate and remember the Holocaust, and reflect on the 6 million Jewish people killed, as well as the persecution and deaths of Roma, LGBT and disabled people.

World leaders and survivors speak out around the Holocaust, its aftermath and why it should never be forgotten.

Much emphasis is put on the need for future generations to learn about the Holocaust and for the world to work towards preventing genocide. This year the theme is “Holocaust Remembrance and Education: Our Shared Responsibility”.

In Britain, the 11th of November is the day most synonymous with Remembrance, however, Remembrance is something that takes place all year round.

There are many different reference points, such as the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, which give people a chance to reflect on the horrors and lessons of previous conflicts and historical events, and the importance of remembering them.

Britain as a nation has strong links to the international Jewish community and has a growing one within it too. It was also British soldiers that liberated the infamous Bergen-Belson concentration camp in Nazi Germany, in 1945.

The Royal British Legion in its role as National Custodian of Remembrance exists to ensure that the memory and sacrifice from the First World War to present day conflicts are not forgotten.

Today the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, which is part of The Royal British Legion, will hold a Holocaust Memorial Day chapel service to mark the day.

We are proud of our partnership with a range of Jewish community organisations across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and we remember the 41,000 British Jews who fought in World War One, and the 65,000 who fought in World War Two.

We work closely with Jewish Veteran Associations like The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women to raise awareness that the percentage of Jewish men and women killed on active service during the two wars was the highest of any ethnic group, and of the Jewish soldiers who were recognised for their bravery, including eight Victoria Cross recipients.

Every year the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women join 10,000 other veterans at the Legion’s March Past the Cenotaph on the 11th November, in Whitehall.

As WW2 fades from living memory, the challenge that faces Remembrance as a whole, not just the Legion, is maintaining the events in modern consciousness and making them relevant to younger audiences.  This is a challenge we cannot take on our own, however.  It is therefore that I urge business leaders to not only reflect on the Holocaust today, but to think about how you can leverage your company’s history, resources and communities to help keep the torch of Remembrance alive and ensure it is passed on to the next generation in good stead.

Just like the theme of the Annual International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust states – Remembrance is a shared responsibility.

We sat down with Glenn Vaughan, Chief Executive of the British Chamber of Commerce | EU & Belgium and he told us 15 interesting, historical and weird facts about the chamber.

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  1. The British Chamber has been around since 1898.
  2. The chamber was called the Anglo-American Chamber of Commerce for a while.
  3. Our oldest member, Law Square – PWC joined as the Cooper Brothers in 1920.

 

 

4. Our first Strasbourg visit was in 1986.BCCP_Strasbourg_2016_Jpeg S-200

 

5. Superdry, the company that everyone thinks is Japanese is actually a British company. Its first export market was Belgium. They opened stores in Antwerp, Brussels and Knokke. Superdry’s annual turnover between 2016-2017 was £453 million.

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6.  GSK is the single largest foreign investor in the Belgian economy.GSK_LOS_RGB

7. Members of our members employ 120,000 people in Belgium, 1.2 million people in the UK and even more in the rest of the EU.

8. Only 30% of our members are British companies.

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9. BMW is the third largest industrial employer in the UK.

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10. We have over 4,000 visitors per year at our events.

11. The UK is the fourth largest foreign investor in Belgium.

12. 1 million cars are exported to the UK from the Port of Zeebrugge.

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Image from LNG World News Staff

13. Belgium is a top 10 export market for the UK. It wasn’t until recently that Belgium was overtaken by China as an export market.

14. 70% of UK – EU trade is with just six countries. Those countries are Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands.

15. West Flanders is a major centre for deep frozen vegetables supplying English supermarkets.

Bonus fact:

Belgium is a major exporter of carpets to the UK. If Brexit makes you feel like “chewing the carpet,” bit might well be from Belgium.

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Image credit: Rakuten

 

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My days begin with my cat looking at me and he is not happy: he was not allowed to spend the night in my bedroom, and he wants me to know his displeasure. The fact that I drink my coffee and read the news distracts me from playing with him, and that doesn’t help.

That’s the only predictable moment in my day as an Ambassador in Belgium.

 

 

Whenever I can, I walk to the office, a 40-minute walk, a moment to consider the day ahead, a moment to put my thoughts together, a moment to plan. And yes, a moment when I’m feeling lucky because I don’t have to drive to work.

But I often have to hit the road. I’m also accredited to Luxembourg and I probably know by now all the bumps on the road between the two capitals, as I know also most of them between Brussels and Ieper, Antwerp, Namur and so many other cities. I come from a federation, like Belgium: I know that the capital is beautiful and important, I know that one needs to leave it to meet the entire country.

The geography is not the only challenge. In the same day I can deliver a demarche on a foreign policy issue, meet an artist, visit a company, be informed of a consular case, attend an official event, plan another one, complain (silently) about a bureaucratic requirement, draft or revise a note, brainstorm with colleagues, check on them. And make a speech.

I speak in public often: at business events; at commemoration ceremonies; on so many other diverse occasions. And because my 92-year old mother who lives in Montreal wants pictures of me, I send her pictures of those events. She then asks me if I’m doing something other than just speaking. “Yes mother, I’m also sending you pictures of me speaking.”

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Because this year is the 100th anniversary of the battle of Passchendaele I spend a lot of time attending commemoration ceremonies. For the last two months I didn’t need to worry about what I would do come the weekend. The small ceremonies, sometimes with Canadian families present, are the most touching: there is hesitation and lovely mistakes, the protocol is imperfect, the children who play a role look at me with pride and nervousness, the emotions run high, it’s life as its best –as we remember those many soldiers who lost their own.

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But I also have to be present on social media. Diplomacy is a very old profession and if its logic has not changed, its tools have. I was told that I have to be active on the social media. I tried to argue that I was raised in another world, a world where the printed word was everything, but the argument was dismissed. I don’t have my kids with me to help me, I’m missing them -and I miss my electric typewriter.

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There is always an occasion in my day to remind me that to work in Brussels as Canadian Ambassador for bilateral relations is a real privilege. Our countries are really close, our relations are deeply and emotionally rooted in the tragic European history, the trade relationship keeps growing, the number of active links between our various institutions is impossible to count, and there is real friendship even we don’t agree on all issues.

And then I come back home, but my day is not necessarily over. My colleagues in Ottawa seem to get a new burst of energy at the end of their day, forgetting that by then I’m well into my night. The internet knows no time zones, but my body does.

And my cat complains that I don’t let him in the bedroom.

Cecile Wright ''ethnic penalty'' Blog

The persisting ‘ethnic penalty’ encountered by British black and ethnic minority within the employment market has been reported by a plethora of bodies, namely British parliamentary committees (i.e., Department for Work and Pensions), the Equality and Human Rights Commission, leading think thanks (i.e., the Runneymede Trust), trade unions (i.e., Trade Union Council) and so forth. The ‘ethnic penalty’ concerns the barriers to opportunities and discrimination experienced by groups of people due to their race and ethnicity.

Within this context of barriers to black and ethnic minorities and employment opportunities there is the question of the plight of British black and ethnic minority young people. According to a recent report by the UK’s Parliamentary Work and Pensions Committee (1), “There are stark differences in youth unemployment by ethnic group. In the year to June 2016, the unemployment rate among 16-24 year olds was 30% for black people, 26% for people from Bangladeshi or Pakistani ethnic background, and 13% for white people. While unemployment rates fall substantially with age for all ethnicities, the relative positions of the groups largely persist (2017, 11).”

 

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Moreover, within this demographic is the ‘silent catastrophe’ or ‘moral panic’ concerning young black men, particularly of African and Caribbean background. Young black men have higher unemployment rates than all other groups of young people. The discrepancy between unemployment rates for young black men and white men has widened in recent decades. Essentially, young black men experience higher rates of unemployment notwithstanding their favourable educational attainment and regardless of their level of qualification. Moreover, black university graduates are twice as likely to be unemployed as white graduate (2).

The implications of this lamentable waste of “human capital” for the individual, families, communities and society is cataclysmic. In order to address the situation of Britain’s black youth unemployment urgent transformative measures are required which include:

  • Robust data and knowledge gathering on how the intersecting aspects of ‘race’, social class, affects young black people access to employment opportunities.
  • Government intervention which requires all employers and occupational training providers to set targets for the recruitment of vulnerable groups. Notwithstanding that all minority groups are affected by the ‘ethnic penalty’ in some form but for black young people starting out in life it is a major impediment. Thus, it is crucial that the government set the conditions for the necessary change.
  • The need for effective penalties for employers found to be discriminating against black applicants.
  • The need to give greater incentives to employers to recruit, retain and progress young black people’s careers.
  • Monitoring youth programmes and apprenticeship schemes for their achievement and success in obtaining black young people’s participation and permanent job offered on completion.
  • Promoting vocational educational pathways for young people – particularly careers advice and pursuing parity of esteem between vocational and academic qualifications.
  • Setting priorities for youth training and employment: vocational qualifications and developing a diverse workforce.

 

There is a key role for employers to play in reducing the ‘ethnic penalty’ and they could begin this process by examining their recruitment procedures.

 

References:

  1. House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee, Employment opportunities for young people 2017, Ninth Report of Session 2016-7. Published on 29th March 2017.
  2. Wright, C; Standen, P; Patel, T. (2010), Black Youth Matters: Transitions from School to Success, London and New York: Routledge.

 

Professor Cecile Wright, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham UK, Highfield House, University, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD. UK

Brexit (Voices) Blog Post

New research by the Council of British Chambers of Commerce in Europe (COBCOE) aims to give European businesses a voice. Key areas of common interest are identified, highlighting the priorities for a Brexit that secures prosperity for Europe.

Business leaders across Europe need to be listened to. They also need clear signals from the EU and UK that will allow them to plan. These are just two of the key messages to come out of COBCOE’s report, “Brexit – the Voices of European Business.”

The research, which involved around 1,000 businesses across the continent shows that uncertainty about the Brexit process and the outcome of negotiations coupled with a potentially short timeframe for change, has already impacted investment and commercial decisions. Managing the risk that this uncertainty presents is not only a drag on productivity, it means that progress on wider policy issues, such as the  development of the digital economy, could be delayed by the focus on Brexit.

Three main themes emerged during the course of the research which are highlighted in the report:

  1. Barriers to trade – maintaining a frictionless European economy;
  2. Uncertainty and disruption in the Brexit process; and
  3. The UK’s role as Europe’s global springboard. It includes many real-life examples of how firms are being impacted.

The research also uncovered concerns about the UK being partitioned off – even among European companies not directly engaged in trade with the UK. This is because many European businesses value the UK for its financial markets, regulatory infrastructure and world-class research and development.

The UK acts as a gateway for international investment and is considered to be a business-friendly force within the EU.

The 1,000 businesses which participated through round table discussions, a survey and poll, perceived a lack of engagement from governments and negotiators.

David Thomas, Executive Chairman of COBCOE pointed out “Europe’s prosperity depends on successful economic relationships between neighbouring businesses and consumers. Disregarding these engines of commerce and wealth creation will make Brexit the cliff face on which such relationships will deteriorate.

“The negotiators’ apparent ‘zero sum’ approach, whereby a loss to one side means a gain for the other, does not reflect reality. The risks and uncertainties that firms across Europe now face undermine European productivity and competitiveness. Agreement on the future framework for economic relations between the EU and agreement on a plan for a transitional period must be made without delay.

COBCOE has presented this report to the UK Government Department for Exiting the European Union and will soon be presenting it to the European Commission Taskforce on Article 50 Negotiations. Charles Brasted, Partner at Hogan Lovells, the international law firm which supports the project, said, “The voices in this report are a unique contribution to the discussion of what kind of post-Brexit Europe is needed and how we should get there. Businesses around Europe and across sectors are clear that Europe needs a strong and connected UK to continue to thrive, because it is central to access to capital, innovation and talent.

“European businesses recognise that they have to work with the process that Brexit has begun and that some change will be needed to give effect to it; but they need, as a matter of urgency, a predictable framework within which to continue to operate, plan, grow and compete during that period of change, and beyond. Agreement on a plan for the transitional period should not be delayed any longer, so that businesses have as much time and information as possible to plan and implement contingencies effectively and can avoid making costly adjustments that prove unnecessary in hindsight.”

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Gain visibility and recognition for excellence in trade and export by applying for the Golden Bridge Trade and Investment Awards.

What is the Golden Bridge Trade and Export Awards?

The 2017 Golden Bridge Trade and Investment Awards present an exciting opportunity for UK companies trading or investing in Belgium, and Belgian and Luxembourgian companies trading or investing in the UK to showcase their bilateral success to an international jury and celebrate their achievements during an exclusive ceremony hosted by the British Ambassador to Belgium, Alison Rose at the British Residence in Brussels, at the heart of Europe.

The Golden Bridge Awards is co-organised by the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and the Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain.

Fun fact: Belgium was the 7th largest export market to the UK and the UK was the 12th largest export market to Belgium last year.

Why should you apply?

Expand your international network, gain business and political expertise, receive recognition for your achievements.

The Golden Bridge Award opens doors to an international network and the connections businesses need to succeed both at home and abroad. Our international panel of judges from the business community are also affiliated with regional trade and investment bodies as well as embassies from the UK, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Winning a Golden Bridge Award will solidify your credibility on any of the three markets and will reinforce your pivotal role  in the economic relationship between Belgium, the U.K. and Luxembourg.

Previous winners of the Best Newcomer category, Orega, shared that the recognition for their export credentials gave them even greater visibility.

“It has sent the right message to our business partners based in Belgium. The award delivers to our potential customers a strong message, as we were new comers on the market.”
-Orega, Golden Bridge Best Newcomer Winner 2016

The award made a positive impression on their business partners with their improved credibility.

Bel’Export, 2016 winner of the Golden Bridge Award for UK business to Belgium, shared that the Golden Bridge award raised their company profile internationally as well as at home.

“As company you gain visibility, in – and outside the UK. It is a recognition for doing a good job.”

-Bel’Export, Golden Bridge Winner 2016

What will you win?

The winners of the Global Bridge award will receive:

  • Visibility at the awards event itself.
  • A one-year free membership* of the British Chamber. If you qualify under our SME criteria, you receive free  membership already if you are shortlisted as a finalist.
  • Participation in our Golden Bridge Awards Winners’ Day programme in Brussels in January 2018 to celebrate your success.
  • Your company featured in the British Chamber’s annual publications and in articles on our social media channels.

Apply now! The final registration deadline is 30th September!
Do you want to be a Golden Bridge Awards partner? Check the Golden Bridge Trade & Investment Award page on our website for more information or contact Alexandra Trandafir at alexandra@britishchamber.be.

 The Gala Dinner for the Golden Bridge Awards will take place on Wednesday 22nd November 2017 at The British Ambassador’s Residence in Brussels. The applicants will be shortlisted based on their financial performance, their innovation and strategy abroad, and their motivation for entering the awards.

*regular membership

By Yasmine Lingemann

On the 1st of July 2021, EU VAT rules are changing. It’s affecting all businesses, but mainly B2C e-commerce sellers as well as online marketplaces based inside and outside EU that facilitate the sale of goods to customers in the EU.

Here at the British Chamber of Commerce EU & Belgium, we’ve got you covered. If you’re interested in learning more about the changes to VAT in the EU, why not come along to our free upcoming event on the 29th June: EU VAT Rules for E-Commerce: What’s Changing on 1st July? Member VAT experts will answer the following questions with practical case example explanations and advice:

What changes on July 1st?
What transactions are impacted by the changes?
Who is affected?
How will these upcoming EU VAT changes impact me and my business?

For businesses outside the EU that are trading to EU based consumers, there are 3 main changes:

  1. VAT exemptions on low-value goods removed
    VAT exemptions on low-value goods (worth €22 euros or less) coming into the EU will be removed. VAT will now be charged on all commercial goods imported into the EU regardless of their value. For goods that are imported into the EU, VAT will apply at the rate set in the buyer’s country. For consignments with a value of €150 or below, this can either be charged at the time of the sale by using the new IOSS- Import One Stop Shop- or be collected by the customer’s declarant.
  2. An IOSS will be introduced
    An IOSS, Import One-Stop-Shop for a single EU-VAT return will be introduced. Businesses signed up to the OSS will no longer have to register for VAT in every EU country. Instead, they can reduce their admin by logging all their eligible cross-border EU sales to consumers in a single electronic quarterly return. IOSS users will only need to pay the VAT to their home Tax authority. This will then forward it to the countries where the goods were sold. Those (based in one member’s state) making below €10,000 per year on cross-border sales of goods to consumers can charge their domestic VAT rate and report the sales as part of their regular domestic VAT return. 
  3. VAT will be the e-commerce marketplaces responsibility
    Rather than the seller, certain marketplaces like e-commerce sites will become liable for collecting, reporting, and paying VAT at the time of sale. This includes B2C imports of consignments up to €150 (when IOSS is used) and on intra-EU and domestic sales of goods by non-EU sellers to EU consumers. As a result, for B2C imports of consignments, with a value of €150 or less where the marketplace has opted in for the IOSS, businesses selling through it must use the marketplaces IOSS number and provide it for the party responsible for making the customs declaration. Non-EU businesses using online marketplaces only for this infra-EU and domestic sale of goods to consumers within the EU might be able to de-register for VAT in EU member states. 

What is the IOSS Regime?
IOSS “import one-stop shop” is a new voluntary system for reporting and collecting VAT on B2C sales of low-value goods imported from non-EU countries. Suppliers and online marketplaces selling imported goods to EU buyers can use IOSS to collect, declare and remit VAT to the tax authorities, instead of making the buyer pay the VAT at the point of importation.

IOSS will:

  • Simplify customs clearance and import procedures for “low-value goods”. 
  • Increase transparency for customers
  • Reduce administrative burdens with one registration for all sales. 
  • Increase the speed of goods being cleared through customs.
  • Simplify logistics, as goods can be imported into the EU via any EU Member State regardless of their final destination.

How to apply?

  • IOSS registrations opened on April 1st for all EU member states.
  • If you are seller not based in the EU, you will need to appoint an EU intermediary to meet the seller’s VAT obligations under OSS.

Read more about these changes on our UK-EU Trade Hub here. We’re here to help you navigate through these changes as smoothly as possible, so please don’t hesitate to contact us for further information.


We will continue to update you with the necessary information to help all our members to succeed. We are all in this together, and with the right plans in place, consumer confidence can be restored. BritCham offers support, guidance and specialised coverage for both Brexit and COVID-19, including webinars, workshops and events that will give your firm the tools it needs to navigate through this challenging period.

See our website here for more details on how we can help you: https://www.britishchamber.be/

By Yasmine Lingemann

If it weren’t for Covid-19, this past year would have been very different for me. I would have been able to go on my year abroad (as part of my University course requirement), improve my French, work for the British Chamber of Commerce | EU & Belgium in person, and live in a new city. Instead, our team of 6 interns is working entirely online 9am-6pm every weekday, we have not been able to meet anyone in the team, and we are persevering through what is a very different year to what we had signed up for. As students, this is the time for us to be delving deep into any opportunities we can find, making as many connections as possible to better our chances once we enter the increasingly competitive job market after graduation. That being said, Covid-19 was the inspiration for Brussels New Generation to set up the mentoring scheme, which has ended up being one of our proudest accomplishments to date.

Very early on in the pandemic, as a group of young professionals, we could see how badly it would hit the younger generation. It was clear that many would lose out on invaluable experiences and opportunities, it would be harder to find a job and gain qualifications, especially whilst managing the financial pressures of starting an independent life as a young person. Even if, like myself and the team of interns I work with, you have managed to secure a placement, the requirements and restrictions that Covid-19 forces us to abide by are arguably most impactful to the younger generation. This is why setting up the mentoring scheme was so important to us. We wanted to use our platform to connect our network and provide a space for our community to support one another. The British Chamber of Commerce has a plethora of contacts, people who have been in our position and are eager to share their knowledge and expertise, so we decided to step in and bridge the Chamber with our network of young professionals.

This month marks the first anniversary of our mentoring scheme. We are so proud to announce that we have surpassed our goal of 100 participants in the scheme, and continue to grow as more mentors and mentees join our programme. My team and I have worked so hard to match our mentors and mentees as thoughtfully as possible, and it has been a great pleasure to see how each mentoring relationship has grown and thrived. We are thrilled with the feedback we have received, with one member saying our programme is:

‘A fantastic way to expand your network, learn from someone who’s more experienced in the Brussels Bubble, and participate in reflective conversations to consciously develop your career.’

It is comments like this that keep us going and make us proud of the wonderful team and community we are so lucky to work with.

We would like to thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. This pandemic has been so challenging for us all, and to think that we could somewhat support our community and watch how vivaciously and admirably you have all thrived throughout this period, is an absolute honour. Our team would like to thank you all for the support you have shown us, whether through attending or promoting our events, or spreading the word about our Committee- every little helps, and together, we have a lot to be proud of!

It is for this reason that, with great pride and joy, we would like to invite you to celebrate our Mentoring Scheme anniversary with us. Whether you’re already part of the Mentoring scheme, or still yet to get involved, please join us in our celebrations!

We will kick the event off by introducing you all to the core group, followed by a fun and interactive quiz to test your knowledge on current affairs and the Brussels Bubble. The event will end with a networking & drinks session, to give you the opportunity to meet those on the scheme you may not have had a chance to yet connect with.

We can’t wait for you to join us in celebration of this milestone, and promise a night that will be as close to a night out in Brussels as possible!

We look forward to celebrating with you! Register here to guarantee your spot👇 :
https://www.britcham.eu/event/BNG%2B%2526%2BFriends%253A%2BMentoring%2BScheme%2B1st%2BAnniversary%2BCelebrations%2B%2526%2BQuiz%2BNight/

If you haven’t already, sign up for the Mentoring Scheme where we connect trainees and entry-level professionals with other young, but more experienced professionals here! :👉 https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfyBHDDk5aBmo-jf1VVhYI2HUi9hiKNprwKPTemR_oA0-D_MQ/viewform

By Louise Holton

Data adequacy refers to a status issued by the European Commission when a country outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) provides equivalent measures of personal data protection to those in European Law.

On 19 February 2021, the European Commission released a draft adequacy decision for data flows between the EU and UK, meaning the UK provides an adequate level of personal data protection to its EU subjects. Once this draft decision has been reviewed by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) and individual EU Member States, the continuation of free-flowing data between the EU and UK will be enabled. A bridging mechanism was agreed until 30th June 2021, where data can continue to flow freely between the UK and EU, while the EU work through institutional requirements to agree on this adequacy agreement.

The UK already granted the EEA adequacy in 2020, enabling personal data to flow from the UK to the EU as usual. As well as this, third countries with existing data adequacy decisions granted by the EU, such as Japan, Canada and New Zealand, will also roll over and be considered as adequate by the UK.

What does this mean for my business?

Businesses are creating more data than ever before. We are increasingly reliant on data to better understand global consumers, improve processes and maximise efficiency. Transferring this data across borders is vital for all sectors of the economy, whether that be financial services, manufacturing or pharmaceuticals.

“IN 2019, THE OVERALL VALUE OF EU-UK TRADE WAS £668 BILLION, WITH £134 BILLION ESTIMATED TO BE DATA ENABLED TRADE”

Joe Jones – Head of Data Adequacy, DCMS

This adequacy decision will benefit businesses who regularly transfer data, including the personal data of customers from the EEA to the UK. Even though this draft decision already gives businesses further affirmation that data can continue to flow-freely, businesses still face many uncertainties and should implement the necessary mechanisms to ensure data flows go undisrupted.

How can my business protect its data flows?

Businesses should evaluate the risks associated with their current data flows and put alternative mechanisms in place, to reduce their reliance on adequacy. EU approved standard contractual clauses (SCC’s), intra-company transfers and binding corporate rules (BCR’s) are alternative mechanisms businesses should implement when trading between the EU and third-party countries. These mechanisms come with legal and administrative costs for businesses, but they will ensure legal and safe personal data transfers can continue, without relying on adequacy.

If your business offers goods and services, processes data or targets consumers in both the EU and UK, you will be subject to both EU and UK GDPR. For example, SCC’s are currently being reviewed as a mechanism to enable data flows to third countries without an adequacy agreement. As the UK adopted the existing SCC’s, businesses should keep up to date on these reviewed safeguards.

Closely monitor announcements from the TCA Partnership Council and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), in case the UK also decide to adopt any reviewed safeguards from the EU.

Consider appointing a UK or EU representative to handle oversees customers, authorities and GDPR compliance. A representative is not a blanket requirement for all businesses. They primarily benefit those who process large amounts of data in the EU or UK, or process special categories of data and have no office space in the EU or UK.

Determine where your Lead Supervisory Authority (LSA) will be situated. Choosing an LSA can significantly reduce administrative burdens for businesses operating in multiple locations. This ultimately means you deal with one Supervisory Authority (in one country) by assigning a LSA in that country to handle GDPR compliance matters, rather than dealing with a Supervisory Authority in every country you operate in.

DATA IS THE NEW OIL

Data is a fundamental element of our daily lives in how we connect and conduct business operations, to provide services and coordinate complex supply chains. Data that is analysed in-depth, can stand at the core of any successful business and stimulate economic growth. The rise of social media, digital communications, the boom of e-commerce and digital enterprises are generating invaluable data to promote global innovation and value creation. Data must be widely available, easily accessible and manageable, to encourage the development of products and services. The internet is based on the principle of the free-flowing data. It eliminated barriers, made the world a smaller place and created this concept of a global village. The internet is free and fair, two components driving openness in our modern business practices and globalised society.

As the volume, power and economic value of data continues to grow, so have the risks and uncertainties surrounding e-privacy and cyber-security. When personal data is transferred outside of one’s home country, citizens feel this loss of control over how and where their data is being used. Similarly, governments seek to control information flows to their citizens, protect the rights of users and foreign surveillance and access data for law enforcement and national security purposes.

The Data Localisation Movement

The growing inward orientation of countries has resulted in more governments introducing new laws to reinstate digital barriers and reverse the inter-connectivity of our globalised society. 

“Data localisation refers to the restriction of data to the territorial boundaries of one county or jurisdiction” 

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 

This poses significant challenges to cross-border data flows and the digital economy; however, the growth in the movement stems from a variety of motivating factors, from mitigating cyber-crime and generating geo-political advantages to economic competition advantages. Similarly, to goods and services, data as a national resource could move in- and out of nations and become taxable, generating new revenue streams for countries.

Data localising close to home

The data localisation movement is prominent within authoritarian countries such as Egypt, Iran and North Korea but is also expanding to countries such as Australia, Canada and even closer to home, within the European Union itself. The EU’s new data governance rules reflects their intention to create nine data spaces, where sensitive data on industry, energy and healthcare are stored in the EU to the benefit of local businesses. 

 “Our regulation will help Europe become the world’s number one data continent

Thierry Breton – EU Internal Market Commissioner

This movement poses threats for the EU’s international trading partners, as local European businesses take advantage of internal data stored in government-operated servers, while foreign competitors face cost and regulatory burdens in accessing local data servers.

What does this mean for UK-EU trade?

In the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the EU and UK agree to avoid restricting cross border data flows, with data localisation specifically listed as a restriction to data flows. Businesses involved in EU-UK trade can be reassured by the high-quality data protection regime and digital agenda that the UK intends to implement. Not only will this promote growth and innovation within the UK and the EU, but it will encourage the continued use of cross-border data flows to support the global economy as modern businesses become increasingly digitised and data-enabled.


Here at the British Chamber of Commerce, we will continue to update you with the necessary information to help all our members to succeed. We are all in this together, and with the right plans in place, consumer confidence can be restored. BritCham offers support, guidance and specialised coverage for both Brexit and COVID-19, including webinars, workshops and events that will give your firm the tools it needs to navigate through this challenging period.

By Lizzie Gull

As the world struggles with the pandemic, for some women it has intensified biases that have long existed under the surface. With schools being shut along with the announcement that children at home should not be cared for by grandparents or other vulnerable adults, a backward development in partnerships was felt, with the responsibility for managing children and their education at home mainly falling to mothers, pushing both men and women back into more traditional roles.  

While a study done by Jim Reid (2020) found that some aspects of lockdown were enjoyable, such as more family time and not having to travel to work or taxi children around, it was also shown that the experience of lockdown had a large physical and mental toll, especially for women. An ONS (2020) survey highlighted that, of parents who were home schooling, one in three women agreed that it was negatively affecting their well-being compared with one in five men. Following on from that, many were faced with the choice of struggling to manage a triple shift of paid work, housework and emotional work, or reduce their hours which may result in a loss of progress that they had made in their careers.

For those that experienced this heightened triple shift new biases emerged, as explained in a recent McKinsey study (Women in the Workplace, 2020). One example of these new biases is the fact that the perceptions of women may change when their young children are seen in the background of virtual meetings, potentially fuelling a subconscious assumption from co-workers that these women are distracted and so less committed to their jobs. This is especially significant in performance reviews which may become biased, especially given that working from home lowers the visibility that managers may have into employee’s day-to-day work.

Balanced with the fact that working from home has made many employees feel like they are always on, as it is now harder to make distinctions between work and home, Covid, and the unrelenting pressure on parents to home school their children whilst also working, could force many mothers temporarily out of the workforce. In fact, according to the Women in the Workplace study, one in three mothers have considered career breaks or lowering their job title due to Covid. This could have significant social consequences, with less diverse workplaces which would lead to a lack of role models for women at all levels, and less women in senior positions able to mentor and sponsor other women.

Whilst many of us are now starting to see the light at the end of a very long tunnel in terms of the Covid crisis coming to an end, a survey done by Eurofound (2020) showed that in July 2020 over a third of employed respondents reported working exclusively from home.  Considering that prior to Covid just 15% of those employed in the EU had ever teleworked (European Commission, 2020), the challenges faced by those dealing with the sudden shift to telework were to be expected.

However, as this is starting to become the new normal, with many companies looking at continuing working from home more often than they did before the pandemic, there is now a need for organisations to do what they can to deal with these challenges in a way that ensures equality in the workplace, and retain the employees most affected by today’s crises.

To an extent, this is already being done, as many organisations have taken positive steps to support their employees during the pandemic, keeping them informed on how to access furlough schemes, providing resources to aid remote work, and expanding mental health services.

Fewer companies have taken steps to adjust the productivity and performance expectations set pre-Covid which may now be unrealistic. These steps may involve re-establishing work–life boundaries, for instance, by putting policies in place for responding to emails outside normal work hours. Whilst the measures that a company will be able to take will depend on its size and financial situation, the most critical factor which most companies should be in a position to address is open and frequent communicationso that everybody in the company feels valued and able to voice their issues if they feel they are struggling to cope in the workplace due to the added challenges of the pandemic.


Here at the British Chamber of Commerce, we will continue to update you with the necessary information to help all our members to succeed. We are all in this together, and with the right plans in place, consumer confidence can be restored. BritCham offers support, guidance and specialised coverage for both Brexit and COVID-19, including webinars, workshops and events that will give your firm the tools it needs to navigate through this challenging period.

See our website here for more details on how we can help you: https://www.britishchamber.be/

By Yasmine Lingemann

In light of International Women’s Day (IWD), celebrated annually on March 8th, there is no better time to honour the achievements of women. As women continue to be underestimated, their drive to surpass expectations is fuelled. Hope and inspiration are ignited by female leaders who, against all odds, have changed the world. Phenomenal females who we greatly admire and who have been recognised under the international spotlight include Christine Lagarde, Jacinda Ardern, Margeret Thatcher, Kamala Harris, Helena Dalli, Michelle Obama, and Ursula von der Leyen. Young women are at last able to see a glimmer of hope that one day they could achieve like them. However, we wanted to dedicate this space to showcase women who are not given as much spotlight as other great women, and to give examples of women who are just as impressive but not yet as acknowledged:    

LITERATURE: Amanda Gorman, youngest poet, and first black female poet, to perform at a presidential inauguration.
TRADE: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, first female, and first African head of World Trade Organisation.
TECH: Blanca Treviño, Founder and President of Sofftek, and ranked by Forbes magazine as “one of the 10 most powerful women in Mexico”.
LAW: Gloria Allred, Attorney who (amongst many other respectable achievements) filed the first lawsuit in California – pro bono – challenging the denial of same-sex marriage, and won the case, transforming the landscape for LGBTQ+ rights in America.
POLITICS: Sophie Wilmès, first female Prime Minister of Belgium.
BUSINESS: Gita Gopinath, first woman Chief Economist of the IMF.
AEROSPACE: Helen Sharman, first British astronaut in space and first Western woman in space.
MEDICINE: Shi Zhengli, virologist who discovered that Covid-19  belongs to the same family of viruses as SARS, and played a major role in finding the origin of the virus- leading to ground-breaking and life-saving research.
SPORT: Arunima Sinha, first female amputee to climb Mount Everest, as well as 6 other mountains. A motivational speaker, 7 time volleyball player, and winner of the Malala award and First Lady award, amongst many others.

This not only a celebration, but a moment to pause and critically reflect on why over half of the world’s population continues to be underrepresented because of their sex. Even in female-dominated industries such as healthcare, where women make up 77% of the NHS, only 47% of those in senior management positions are female. IWD is about recognising that there remains a huge disparity in how men and women are paid, even when all compensable factors are controlled. That although 60% of graduates in the EU are women, only 8% of the EU’s largest companies have female CEOs, according to the European Commission. It’s about acknowledging that six in ten women in the EU have experienced sexist treatment or suffered sexual assault in the workplace. It is about calling for systemic and social change and fighting for it until we no longer need an International Women’s Day.

The good news is that women are now making up more than a third of top jobs at the UK’s 350’s largest firms. The number of women on boards has risen 50% from 682 to 1,026 in five years- figures released by the government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review, which was launched in 2016 to encourage UK-listed companies to appoint more senior women. It said they showed “a dramatic shift in representation at the very highest levels of British business”. Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “FTSE companies have made incredible progress in recent years, but we cannot become complacent in building a society where everyone has an opportunity to get on and succeed. Our collective efforts to truly eradicate those barriers and create an inclusive leadership culture doesn’t stop here, this is where it intensifies.” We are also very proud to see that as of October 2020, Belgium’s new federal government, led by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, has ten male and ten female members. This 50/50 balance is something we hope other countries (and companies) will follow, so that women are fairly represented and rightfully leading in all walks of life.

Gender equality does not only benefit women. Achieving goals such as equal pay allows companies to attract the best talents for a job, and improves motivation, efficiency and overall productivity at the workplace. A study done by Credit Suisse proved that working in a teams of equal parts both powerful women and men evokes a more global and holistic perspective, better organisational performance, and greater innovation. A diversity of talent leads to a broader range of skills amongst employees, as well as a diversity of experiences and perspectives which increases the potential for increased productivity, too. 

This IWD the strap line is ‘Choose to Challenge’. So, what do you choose to challenge? We do not need to tell you that men and women should be treated equally, or to convince you that there is a problem. We ask our readers to act- and we promise to act too. Whether you’re a man or a woman, ‘choose to challenge’ when you feel something isn’t right. With privilege comes power, and there are so many ways you can use that power for good: speak up and call out sexism and misogyny amongst your peers, stand up for and champion women and men equally, hire and promote women that are best for a role, and create an environment that encourages women and men to succeed together, not compete against one another.  

We are proud to say that our team is made up of more women than men, because they were the best people for their roles. But it does not end there- we have a diversity & inclusion team here that makes sure we are prioritising the promotion of diversity and inclusion to better serve the needs of our members, employees, and key stakeholders. We encourage women who have insight into EU politics and business to get in contact with us, join our network, and speak at our events- we would love to hear from you. Please do not hesitate to also let us know if you would also like to get involved with our committee, and stand with us in the fight for equality, diversity and justice. 


Here at the British Chamber of Commerce, we will continue to update you with the necessary information to help all our members to succeed. We are all in this together, and with the right plans in place, consumer confidence can be restored. BritCham offers support, guidance and specialised coverage for both Brexit and COVID-19, including webinars, workshops and events that will give your firm the tools it needs to navigate through this challenging period.

See our website here for more details on how we can help you: https://www.britishchamber.be/

By Euan Carey

There’s only a week to go until our virtual trip to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. We absolutely cannot wait to show you what we have in store. Grab a drink, get comfy – this is going to be the best trip to Strasbourg you’ve never had!

As you enter Strasbourg (virtually!) you will be able to enjoy all that the Chamber has to offer over these two days. We have a fantastic programme on offer. Each session deals with important areas of the European Parliament’s work and is sure to benefit you and your organisation.

Your trip to Strasbourg begins with a look at the EU’s Digital Agenda, an area that has seen a lot of discussion recently. MEPs such as Axel Voss, Damian Boesalager, and Brando Benifei will be taking you through the EU Parliament’s work on the Digital Agenda. They will, of course, be available to answer any questions that you have!

After leaving the session on the EU’s Digital Agenda, take a wander over to our breakout rooms on the priorities of the various EU Parliament Committees. You can choose between the priorities of the ECON, IMCO, ITRE, and TRAN committees, each with their own MEP to take you through the current thinking of their respective committee. You can, of course, walk between the various rooms and take in the various sights in each one.

Once our breakout sessions have finished, you can enjoy our final session of the day. Walk over to our final session room and enjoy our event on the European Green Deal, a massively important topic considering the priorities of the current commission. You will be able to meet some of the MEPs championing this major issue, ask them questions, and discuss any relevant issues with them.

With the sessions over, you can enjoy some additional fun activities! Look at the exhibition spaces where you can network with other member companies, as well as our streaming of the committee meetings! Finally, enjoy some networking and fun with Chamber members.

With that, day one finishes! Get yourself some rest and prepare for a fantastic day two of Strasbourg!

Unfortunately, on day two, we will have to depart Strasbourg, but before you go, we will be able to leave you with one final fantastic session. This session will be on Future EU-UK relations, a must for any business dealing with the impact of the agreement. We will be welcoming David McAllister, Emmanuel Maurel, and many other MEPs for this session! All the MEPs will be happy to deal with any questions that you may have.

As we wave you goodbye from Strasbourg, and as you digest all the information you have gained, we will make sure that you have access to our event reports which will detail anything that you might have missed! We will also be able to provide you with any slides that are used by the MEPs, as well as pass on any final questions that you have onto them!

We hope that we have set the scene for you and convinced you to register for this fantastic and ambitious event. We are at your disposal if you have any questions, and the Chamber hopes that you choose to join us next week for this innovative event!


Here at the British Chamber of Commerce, we will continue to update you with the necessary information to help all our members to succeed. We are all in this together, and with the right plans in place, consumer confidence can be restored. BritCham offers support, guidance and specialised coverage for both Brexit and COVID-19, including webinars, workshops and events that will give your firm the tools it needs to navigate through this challenging period.

See our website here for more details on how we can help you: https://www.britcham.eu/

By Yasmine Lingemann

Supply chains, the network between a company and its suppliers to produce and distribute a specific product to the final buyer, are being threatened by Brexit, Covid-19, and Government actions. When one step of the supply chain fails, we all fail. Modern manufacturing depends heavily on fast supply chains offering ‘just in time’ delivery of components, often across multiple borders. The Brexit deal agreed on December 24, just one week before it came into force, left little time for companies to adapt. Many manufacturers are still dealing with rebuilding their supply chains following the impact of Covid-19, and should now also consider how to adapt and change to reflect the new trading relationship between the EU and the UK, whilst also collaborating closely with supply chains to ensure there are minimal setbacks. It is vital that Governments do all it takes to keep supply chains open and running smoothly, before everyone ends up losing out.

The global landscape for supply chains has seen better days. Setbacks faced by many supply chains have impacted our world economy. Fishmongers in France state that their supply chain has been set back by 30 years. A global push for carbon neutrality twinned with the effects of Brexit and the pandemic has caused the worst year for UK car manufacturing since 1943, according to the UK’s Auto Industry trade group. Long queues at the borders are not only adding considerably to business expenses, but perishable goods are being thrown away and supermarkets such as M&S in France are seeing empty shelves. M&S spokesman confirmed the lack of groceries was a result of ‘Brexit teething problems’ disrupting supply chains, with lorries trying to cross the Channel being held up for days and thousands of pounds of produce being thrown away. Having no cumulative rules of origin, as well as EU bans on a variety of UK products such as shellfish, have made matters even tougher. The need under Brexit to revamp supply chains to comply with local content rules, the requirement for fresh export certificates and the uncertainties of delayed parts imports are just some of the other barriers now facing manufacturers with UK sites.

The government should consider how emerging/digital technologies, can deliver improved supply chain management and efficiency. Ensuring a smoother transaction of goods at the borders should be prioritised: more workers should be hired to deal with the greater volume of issues, and documentation should be digitalised where possible. We encourage the government to continue to survey the situation at the borders, and to not rule out the possibility of negotiating better terms so that traders on both sides of the channel, as well as the rest of the world, are able to trade more freely. Government support where supply chains are at risk of breaking is needed, especially considering the global pandemic we are in. Supplies of PPE, vaccines, and other essentials, in particular, need to continue to stay open.

The global economy is already under a lot of pressure, now is the time to support one another and ask for help where needed.

If you and your company are affected by anything addressed in this article, our Business, Trade and Investment (BTI) Committee provides a platform for trade facilitation, business networking and knowledge sharing, and to harness and foster expertise. For more information, please click here to see how we can help you.


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Here at the British Chamber of Commerce, we will continue to update you with the necessary information to help all our members to succeed. We are all in this together, and with the right plans in place, consumer confidence can be restored. BritCham offers support, guidance and specialised coverage for both Brexit and COVID-19, including webinars, workshops and events that will give your firm the tools it needs to navigate through this challenging period.

See our website here for more details on how we can help you: https://www.britishchamber.be/

By Yasmine Lingemann

What to Expect?


The Programme:

Sponsorship:


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Here at the British Chamber of Commerce, we will continue to update you with the necessary information to help all our members to succeed. We are all in this together, and with the right plans in place, consumer confidence can be restored. BritCham offers support, guidance and specialised coverage for both Brexit and COVID-19, including webinars, workshops and events that will give your firm the tools it needs to navigate through this challenging period.

See our website here for more details on how we can help you: https://www.britishchamber.be/

By Yasmine Lingemann

IN BRIEF:

  • VAT will now be collected at the point of sale instead of at the point of importation. 
  • This means that non-UK retailers who are selling goods directly to a UK consumer with a sale value of less than €150 (£135) must:  
    • Register for UK VAT with HMRC  
    • Collect UK VAT from the consumer 
    • File VAT returns 
    • Send VAT to HMRC 
  • The EU are also implementing their own VAT system in July 2021 – where non-EU sellers must register once for the whole EU market.  

WHAT IS THE IMPACT ON BUSINESS?

While organisations would have welcomed the trade deal between the U.K. and EU, signed on December 30, 2020, it came so close to the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31, 2020 that many had insufficient time to fully understand its implications on their activities before it took effect. As people return to work their focus will now be on understanding what changes have taken place as a result of Brexit and the terms of the deal. The economic repercussions of Brexit have been challenging to many, so it is very important businesses familiarise themselves with the changes, so to benefit the most in this difficult time.

Much has been written in the press about how these VAT changes make life more difficult for non-UK businesses. However, if those businesses were already making sales valued at more than £70,000 a year into the UK they would have already been VAT registered and charging UK VAT to customers.  If the packages being delivered are under £135 in value there will be no import VAT or duty to pay and hence, their situation will remain largely unchanged save for the need to complete customs declarations.

For businesses that were not already UK VAT registered and have packages valued at more than £135 or sell via OMP, the position is more complicated.  To determine what your obligations are we would recommend reviewing the following questions:

1. What is the value of my package?
2. If selling via an OMP will you met the conditions for them to take on your obligations to account for UK VAT?
3. If your packages are going to be over £135, what will the customer experience be like if they have to pay extra import costs in addition to your charge?
4. If packages are over £135, will any duties be payable?

Generally, most of the UK’s VAT rules applicable to organisations providing services remain unchanged post Brexit. Specifically, there were no widespread changes to the place of supply provisions (rules that determine the country in which VAT is paid) or rates of VAT. However, changes were made in other areas, and it’s important you familiarise yourself with these changes so that you don’t lose out as a business.

For example, EU retailers sending packages to the UK now need to fill out customs declaration forms. Shoppers may also have to pay customs or VAT charges, depending on the value of the product and where it came from. However, customs charges are the responsibility of the customer, not the retailer, who often has no idea of how much the eventual extra cost might be. They cannot be paid in advance and are levied only when the item reaches the UK.

The end of the Brexit withdrawal period has resulted in many UK VAT rule changes, and organisations will need to adapt to new VAT accounting arrangements. We recommend  that organisations review their sales and purchase transactions and administrative processes to ensure that any changes to the VAT rules have been identified. This will help guard against unexpected costs.

We are here to help you. Head over to our new website here, where you can find support in our Brexit Hub, and get in contact with us or our network to make sure you adapt to these new changes successfully.

THE FACTS:

VAT on GOODS COMING INTO THE UK: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/eu-business-exporting-to-the-uk

UK VAT registered businesses importing goods into the UK are able to account for import VAT on their VAT return, rather than paying import VAT on or soon after the time that the goods arrive at the UK border. This applies to imports from the EU and non-EU countries. 

However, customs declarations and the payment of any other duties are still required. Customs duty (tariffs) applies to some goods and excise duties continue to apply to tobacco, alcohol and certain energy products. Customs and excise duty payments can be deferred to be settled monthly with a duty deferment account. Businesses need to register with HMRC to open a duty deferment account and will need to provide a bank guarantee.

Since 1 January 2021, VAT on imported goods with a value of up to £135 is collected at the point of sale not the point of importation. This means that UK supply VAT, rather than import VAT, are due on these consignments.

Online marketplaces (OMPs) involved in facilitating the sale of imported goods, are responsible for collecting and accounting for the VAT, even when the goods are in the UK at the point of sale.

For goods sent from overseas and sold directly to UK consumers, the overseas seller is required to register and account for the VAT to HMRC. Overseas sellers also remain responsible for accounting for the VAT on goods in the UK when sold directly to UK consumers.

Business-to-business sales not exceeding £135 in value are also be subject to the new rules. However, where the business customer is VAT registered and provides its registration number to the seller, the VAT will be accounted for by the customer by means of a reverse charge. 

AT THE UK BORDER:

Fiscal compliance checks at the UK border include checks to confirm the correct valuation for goods declared at import. Current requirements for importers and agents to assure the completeness and correctness of declarations will remain. Systems should be extended to cover EU imports with a view to identifying false information from consignors, to assure HMRC that clear anomalies can be pulled out from the high scale of declaration volumes typically handled. In particular, importers and agents will need to ensure their systems can identify consignments that are outside the scope of the new arrangements and thus remain liable to import VAT.

Vigilance around consignment valuation will continue, but with more focus on the declaration boundary at £135 or less for this policy. Systems will need to identify excise goods and goods being sent by one private individual to another, which are outside the scope of the new arrangements.

VAT ON GOODS COMING OUT OF THE UK: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/eu-business-importing-from-the-uk

Check with your EU country’s customs authority about the rules for sending goods to the UK from the EU. Make sure you talk to your trading partners in the UK to:

  • agree responsibilities
  • make sure you have the correct paperwork for the type of goods you are trading

You must make sure you have completed the necessary border requirements.

There will be no substantive change for the movement of goods between Northern Ireland and member states of the EU, including Ireland.


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bccblinksmall_400x400.jpg

Here at the British Chamber of Commerce, we will continue to update you with the necessary information to help all our members to succeed. We are all in this together, and with the right plans in place, consumer confidence can be restored. BritCham offers support, guidance and specialised coverage for both Brexit and COVID-19, including webinars, workshops and events that will give your firm the tools it needs to navigate through this challenging period.

See our website here for more details on how we can help you: https://www.britishchamber.be/


A Word From The Chair

This group will seek to cover the three areas of sustainability:

  1. Environmental
  2. Social: Health & Well-being
  3. Economic 

With this group, we aim to empower you to act. We will discuss issues related to the running of sustainable businesses, from practical tips for small steps you can take on a in your daily activity, to how to improve the effectiveness of your company’s sustainability goals. The SAG will become the platform to share experiences, learn from best practices and debate everything from practical examples to policy actions required to improve sustainability throughout. We will seek to create understanding and awareness of sustainability from concept to implementation.

Watch as we have five minutes with Tania Pencheva, Chair of the BritCham Sustainability Action Group.

Are You Looking For New, Sustainable Business Practices?

Getting used to home working? Excited to go back to the office? Looking for the perfect equilibrium? From home, from the office or from any place on our planet… we have solutions for you! 

Did you know about TooGoodToGo? This very user-friendly App will help you to get the leftovers at a competitive price from any restaurant, cafe, hotel breakfasts, etc…Or in the same idea, go for shopping for food at half price to fight against food wastage with Happy Hours Market making good use of leftovers from supermarkets (Carrefour, Delhaize, Colruyt, Färmz, etc…) For both initiatives you just need to download the app, book the product that you want to buy and grab them in the closest distribution point.

Take the opportunity of having less people in the offices to make some changes:

  • Install LED lights everywhere.
  • Think about turning off the heating and the lights where there are empty office spaces.
  • Conduct a full cleaning of your the offices and offer a hygienic and healthy environment to your employees when they will be back! Think about the furniture, the carpets and even the air! Contact Composil Europe or Breezo Air for some ideas.
  • Think about your Mobility planning. Physical presence might have changed. The expectations and needs of employees definitely have changed. Take these opportunities to rethink the fleet management inside your enterprise. Ask MyMove or Skipr for some help! 

On an individual scale, here are some simple things you can apply everyday:

  • Install Ecosia as your search engine on your computer in order to plant trees each time you make a search.
  • Unsubscribe to newsletters you don’t read, they take up space on servers that consume energy for nothing.

As a bonus to minimise your carbon footprint, share these simple ideas to your colleagues so that they can make the same effort as you for a responsible way of living and a safer planet. 

Find out how you can you get involved by contacting Melanie Barker at melanie.barker@britcham.eu for more information.

Start 2021 right with our first event ‘Re-Imagining the Workplace’ with Harry Gaskell, Head of LTV, Purpose and Sustainability at Ernst & Young.

This event will be introduced by the CEO of BritCham, Daniel Dalton and the Sustainability Action Group leadership, Tania Pencheva and Noemie de Crombrugghe. This will be followed by the keynote from Harry Gaskell and a Q&A session.

Harry has over 30 years consulting experience focused on helping organisations make major changes to their business, culture or organisation. He will provide thought leadership along with practical tips towards the workplace post-Covid and expectations from leadership and companies going forward. Register for the event here.

Who should attend?
Business leaders in medium and large companies. International companies. individuals and corporates interested in implementing and improving their Sustainable working practices.

This event is open to the Chamber network and is free to attend.

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