UHY Hacker Young | Chartered Accountants

Anyone Leaving Protocol: Last In, First Out

1 April 2017

European Commission bureaucrats have discovered the above – until now unheard of – protocol known as ALPro LIFO in the papers supporting the nine page document published by Donald Tusk at the EU summit in Malta. Further research reveals the source as the EC VAT Directive, dating back to 2006.

As the title suggests, this deals with any country wishing to leave the European Union and looks at the VAT aspects of intra-community trading, complementing the provisions of Article 50. In particular it advances the doctrine that countries can only leave the Customs Union in a reverse of the order in which they joined. This causes a potential problem with Brexit, as, although the UK was not amongst the originators of the EU, it was by no means the most recent to sign up.

In a move that mirrors the UK’s Great Repeal Bill, there is a proposal to create a notional 29th member state, which will join the Customs Union and can be the first to leave under the terms of the protocol. A spokesman for the European Commission, Olaf Pirlo, said, “It’s quite simple: the new member state, let’s call it Brexitia, parallels the UK’s trading whilst Article 50 negotiations are carried on and when the UK leaves the EU on, say, 1 April 2019, we can expel Brexitia in line with ALPro LIFO.”

Full details have yet to emerge, but it seems that this will have quite an impact on any UK business trading with another EU country and all goods and services coming into from, or leaving for, another EU country will have to be channelled via Brexitia. The details of how this intermediary trading country will operate have not yet been ironed out and it is likely that implementation will be delayed by up to a year, giving an effective date of, perhaps, 1 April 2018.

UKIP press officer, Lol Fairpo, decried ALPro LIFO as ‘just the sort of bureaucratic nonsense that led to the Brexit decision.’ UK trade sources welcomed the delayed implementation date, as did European commentators, with Arif Pollo from the Italian Pasta Union commenting, “As has been well documented by your Panorama programme, an early implementation date would have a bad effect on sales from this year’s spaghetti harvest, as the UK is our largest export market.”

Already emerging on social media are calls for a UK public vote on the name of the 29th member state, with early front runners being Erewhon, Little Britain, and Disunited Kingdom. It’s thought that this will be resisted by the UK government, following the Boaty McBoatface debacle.

If you have any concerns regarding the ALProLIFO proposals, please contact John Sheehan, or click here for more information.