SHARE
COPY LINK

CHRISTMAS

Santa analysis: Claus and Europe feel Brexit pinch, as will UK’s Christmas

Will Santa still come to the UK if he faces tariffs and can’t move freely? And what about some of the goodies from the EU that Brits crave so much at Christmas?

Santa analysis: Claus and Europe feel Brexit pinch, as will UK's Christmas
Deposit Photos.

The Christmas spirit and festive relief will be much appreciated by those weighed under by the Brexit saga. But will Brexit in fact turn out to be the future grinch of British Christmases?

Santa could face logistics and supply chain issues in the UK if the country does eventually leave the EU with no deal. Santa and his reindeer could face long queues at Calais or find they don't have the right to enter British airspace.

Santa would then either have to set up a UK subsidiary or avoid delivering too many fresh cakes, treats or presents that could spoil.

EU gifts could suddenly face heavy tariffs, potentially preventing the red-cloaked, large and bearded Nordic man from delivering millions of presents across the British Isles.

The British government has also promised that Brexit will mean a tougher approach on immigration, although it’s unclear whether the UK would adopt the ‘Norway model’ and ban Swedish reindeer from entering the country. Santa might then not be coming to town.

Reindeer in Norway. File photo: AFP Photo/NORWEGIAN PUBLIC ROADS ADMINISTRATION/Kari Karstensen.

Turkey, champagne, port wine and sweet Italian cake are all linked to the spirit of Xmas – and to the EU.

Some British festive habits even crossed the Channel from Europe. In 1841, Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, allegedly brought a Christmas tree from Germany to the UK, importing a tradition that has found its way into every British living room ever since. Martin Luther is apparently credited with having invented the Christmas tree.

It might have originally been an import from Europe, but higher costs for Polish and Danish trees to reach British shores meant UK-based growers were hailing Brexit as a victory for domestic-grown trees in 2017, according to a report in Horticulture Week.

British Christmas turkeys rely distinctly on EU labour. Some 90 percent of seasonal workers, who help breed and slaughter turkeys in the UK, are from Eastern Europe – mainly Poland, Romania and Hungary, according to a report in the Financial Times. 

READ ALSO: A big, fat Italian Christmas: how Italy does it bigger and better

“We wouldn’t be in business without migrant workers and we won’t be in business in the future without them,” MD of a turkey company Paul Kelly, also chairman of the British Turkey Federation, told British daily Metro. 

Polish workers are increasingly turning their back on the UK and instead seeking similar work in the Netherlands or Germany, states that report. 

Brits love a Christmas toast with champagne too, a fact confirmed by the United Kingdom’s position as the former leading consumer of the French sparkling wine in the world. 

Yet the head of the Union of Champagne Houses (UCH), which includes brands such as Moet & Chandon, said already at Christmas last year that the USA had dethroned the UK as the largest bubbly consuming nation. Brits are increasingly opting for cheaper alternatives.  And it isn’t just champagne that Brexit has in its sights. The price of a bottle of port wine, a Christmas favourite with mince pies, will rise to offset the extra costs Brexit entails.

READ ALSO: #SwedishChristmas: The festive Swedish songs just for adults

“We will have to gradually raise our prices in the coming years to cover losses,” Adrian Bridge, president of Fladgate Partnership – which owns leading port brands such as Taylor’s and Fonseca, told Forbes’ Portuguese-language outlet Forbes.pt, while discussing Brexit. Sales to the UK represent 30 percent of the company’s annual turnover, claims the Forbes report.

A slice of panettone cake is also popular in Britain. The United Kingdom is the third largest consumer of all Italian Christmas cake exports. Nearly 10 per cent of all panettone and pandoro cake exports from Italy go to the UK, according to Confartigianato, an Italian growers union which has warned that a no-deal Brexit could add substantial costs for its members who export heavily to the UK. 

Italian companies generated more than €43,2 million in sales in the UK during the festive period in 2016, accounting for 11.1 percent of all total exports in the sector, reported Confartigianato, a lobby group of Italian manufacturing firms.

Bonus viewing: BBC Newsnight's border-to-border (Muff to Dover) road trip across the UK while discussing Brexit tries to feel the pulse of the British public on Theresa May's Brexit deal before Christmas 2018.   

READ ALSO: The food and drink you need for an Italian Christmas feast

READ ALSO: The story behind France's 'little saints' of Christmas

READ ALSO: 12 weird and wonderful Christmas traditions celebrated across Spain

READ ALSO: Your essential guide for doing Christmas just like a German

 

 

BREXIT

Driving licences: Are the UK and Italy any closer to reaching an agreement?

With ongoing uncertainty over whether UK driving licences will continue to be recognised in Italy beyond the end of this year, British residents are asking where they stand.

Driving licences: Are the UK and Italy any closer to reaching an agreement?

Many of The Local’s British readers have been in touch recently to ask whether any progress has been made in negotiations between the UK and Italy on a reciprocal agreement on the use of driving licences.

If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you’re familiar with the background of this Brexit consequence.

READ ALSO: Frustration grows as UK driving licence holders in Italy wait in limbo

When Britain left the EU there was no reciprocal agreement in place, but UK licence holders living in Italy were granted a grace period in which they could continue to drive on their British licences. This period was later extended to the current deadline of December 31st, 2022.

The situation beyond that date however remains unclear, and concern is growing among the sizeable number of British nationals living in Italy who say no longer being allowed to drive would be a serious problem.

There was the option of exchanging licences before the end of 2021, but many didn’t make the deadline. As has been proven before, this was often not due to slackness but rather all manner of circumstances, from having moved to Italy after or shortly before the cut-off date to bureaucratic delays.

Driving licences: How does the situation for Brits in Italy compare to rest of Europe?

So is an agreement any closer? Or do those driving in Italy on a UK licence really need to go to the considerable trouble and expense of sitting an Italian driving test (in Italian)?

With five months left to go, there’s still no indication as to whether a decision will be made either way.

The British government continues to advise licence holders to sit their Italian driving test – while also stressing that they’re working hard on reaching a deal, which would make taking the test unnecessary.

This message has not changed.

On Wednesday, July 27th, British Ambassador to Italy Ed Llewellyn tweeted after a meeting with Italian Infrastructure and Transport Minister Enrico Giovannini: “The British and Italian governments continue to work towards an agreement on exchange of driving licences.”

But the ambassador earlier this month advised UK nationals “not to wait” and to “take action now by applying for an Italian licence”.

In an official newsletter published in mid-July, Llewellyn acknowledged the concerns of British residents and confirmed that negotiations are still going on.

“I know that many of you are understandably concerned about whether your UK driving licence will continue to be recognised in Italy, especially when the extension granted by Italy until 31 December 2022 for such recognition expires.

“Let me set out where things stand. The British Government is working to reach an agreement with Italy on the right to exchange a licence without the need for a test. 

READ ALSO:  Do you have to take Italy’s driving test in Italian?

“The discussions with our Italian colleagues are continuing and our objective is to try to reach an agreement in good time before the end of the year.

“We hope it will be possible to reach an agreement – that is our objective and we are working hard to try to deliver it. 

Nevertheless, he said, “our advice is not to wait to exchange your licence.”

“If you need to drive in Italy, you can take action now by applying for an Italian licence. This will, however, involve taking a practical and theory test.” 

He acknowledged that “the process is not a straightforward one and that there are delays in some areas to book an appointment for a test”.

READ ALSO: ‘Anyone can do it’: Why passing your Italian driving test isn’t as difficult as it sounds

“We will continue to work towards an agreement,” he wrote. “That is our objective and it is an objective we share with our Italian colleagues.“

The British Embassy in Rome had not responded to The Local’s requests for further comment on Friday.

The Local will continue to publish any news on the recognition of British driving licences in Italy. See the latest updates in our Brexit-related news section here.

Find more information on the UK government website’s Living in Italy section.

SHOW COMMENTS