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Brexit: Withdrawal agreement lists EU IT data link beyond transition

Document lists system-to-system IT and network connectivity that will be required after the UK leaves the European Union

As the UK Parliament debates the Brexit Bill, the UK government’s published New Withdrawal Agreement lists several IT systems that will need to remain connected and supported by both the UK and the European Union (EU).

Access to networks and IT systems will need to be maintained during the transition period and beyond, according to the 544-page document.

While the Withdrawal Bill must go through Parliament, the EU and the UK have agreed that access to networks, information systems and databases will cease at the end of the transition period, which means the UK will no longer be entitled to access any network, any information system and any database established on the basis of EU law.

Those systems and networks required after the transition are listed in Annex IV of the agreement document. These include several systems relating to taxation, value added tax, import and export controls.

The agreement specifies that backwards compatibility will be maintained for all of the IT systems and networks listed in Annex IV of the agreement document.

The EU and the UK have agreed that some of the connections specified in the agreement will be needed up until 2024. One, Ownres, for fraud reporting, will need to be supported up to 2026. 

Although the UK’s access to any given network, information system or database will be time limited, the agreement proposes that alternatives will need to be found for exchanging customs information once electronic data processing is no longer possible.

In Article 8 of the agreement, the EU and the UK specify the extent of ICT connectivity that will be required. The document states: “The UK shall have access, to the extent strictly necessary to comply with its obligations under this title, to the networks, information systems and databases listed in Annex IV.” 

Through the agreement, the UK has agreed to reimburse the EU for the actual costs incurred by the EU as a consequence of facilitating access to these systems.

Read more about Brexit IT impact

As Computer Weekly has reported previously, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will use its legacy platform, Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (Chief), if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019.

According to the National Audit Office, HMRC’s Customs Declarations Service (CDS) will not be ready to support increased volumes of goods moving under transit arrangements and requiring checks. CDS is being developed to handle and risk-assess customs declarations and account for payment of duties as a replacement for Chief.

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