I for one have instructed my organisation to look for the positives – for in all change lies opportunity
As a Londoner my friends’ views on Brexit are as diverse as their backgrounds. Some are greatly enthusiastic about a new era of freedom and glory. Others point out that the current deal is a “Hard Brexit” in all but name with the deal missing the necessary detail that businesses need. Only time will tell who is right. For us average folks there are a number of tangible and rather annoying changes that were introduced on January 1st. 10 days into Brexit here are 6 ways how my life as a German-Finn living in London has changed.
1. No more cheese for my uncle
My uncle loves Blue Stilton. I used to bring him a package of the smelly, creamy delicacy every time I traveled to Germany for work. No more. There was no deal or clarification on the rules of food imports for private use from the UK into the EU. Meat and dairy products are no longer permitted – just like with any other 3rd party nation.
2. My bank no longer wants me
As a Londoner I have great choice in banks with great customer service and a state of the art customer interface. My Finnish bank account in Helsinki where I lived before London has never compared favourably with my accounts here. And yet the following came as a shock: First the authorisation SMS stopped working. The bank told me this was due to the messages now being expensive as mobile network charges to the UK are now roughly on par with sending messages to the US as the UK is now no longer part of the fee free zone of the EU. It got worse: the bank then let me know that they will no longer be offering services to residents of the UK and Russia as they would not be able to comply with their Know-Your-Customer (KYC) process due to a lacking framework for such things between the EU and the UK.
3. My company can no longer own its .EU website
I received an email on January 1st letting me know that the website for my speaker company www.empowermotion.eu has been suspended pending proof of a legal entity with an address within the EU. Something that can be solved relatively easily but constitutes unwelcome hassle and admin.
4. My mail is late
I had sent a number of items by mail. I paid extra for speedy and secure delivery. Some took over three weeks to get to Helsinki. Others were returned with the explanation that “DPD UK has paused its European Road Service because of the additional burden of customs paperwork”. Presumably this really is temporary and DPD like other logistics companies will find a way to price the additional administrative burden into their fees. Whoopie!
5. My favourite webshops refuse to deliver or make me jump through hoops
Two of my favourite online stores, one in the Netherlands and the other in Germany, no longer deliver to the UK. The German store cites a lack of staff to deal with the administrative burden of customs. A third one has decided to fulfill orders from their US warehouse instead of from mainland Europe, burdening me with the customs cost “conveniently” charged by DHL before delivery. No thank you.
6. My Scottish friends are happy
My Scottish friends back from my college days seem very happy. They feel Brexit is a great development because it will give them a realistic chance at independence. “We narrowly voted to stay in the Union a few years ago because it was made clear by Spain and France that Scotland would be outside of the EU if it left and that neither country would be willing to approve re-admission. Presumably in fear of Catalonia or one of the Mediterranean islands declaring independence without the fear of the economic repercussions of leaving the EU. Now we are told we would gain automatic readmission as we would be joining from outside the block but as a former member with all necessary checks already passed”.
It is early days of course and we are all feeling our way when it comes to the new rules as stipulated by the 1246 page Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement. You may feel these examples of daily difficulties are a minor kink, ironed out over time. Or you may see these as an ominous sign of things to come. I for one have instructed my organisation to look for the positives – for in all change lies opportunity.