Trade relations between the UK and the EU will be seriously disrupted on 1 January, whether there is a post-Brexit agreement or not, the UK’s National Audit Office (NAO) warned on Friday.
From 1 January, the UK will no longer apply the rules of Europe's single market and customs union. It left the EU in January and is currently in a transition phase as the country and the European Union try to reach an agreement on future relations.
In a report, the NAO considers that the government has made progress in adapting infrastructure at the borders, but that it is far from sufficient. Preparations have been delayed by the pandemic and significant risks remain, particularly for Northern Ireland and for businesses trading with the continent.
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The NAO warned that IT systems have not been tested and transit areas for trucks are not ready. It also pointed out that the government has not yet provided enough customs officers.
In the event of a "no deal", up to 7,000 lorries could find themselves stuck in Kent on 1 January, with up to two days waiting to cross the Channel, the British government estimated in September.
The report comes at a time when an agreement on the post-Brexit trade relationship is far from being reached, with Brussels this week reporting the persistence of serious differences.
The Brussels Times