What is Brexit?
The deadline for the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union, known as Brexit, is quickly approaching. The formal date will be March 29, 2019. In June 2016, Britain held a national referendum on their European Union membership, and having to choose between remain and leave, the British voted to leave by 52%. After 18 months of negotiating a divorce plan on trade, security and migration matters with European Union, the deal was rejected by the British Parliament just 10 weeks before Britain is scheduled to leave the EU.
What could happen next?
As the Brexit deadline nears, the UK government and EU leaders are still negotiating and discussing a mutual agreement for Brexit. A permanent trading relationship with Europe (a so-called customs union) would be one of the options. Another strategy would be to ask the EU to postpone the Brexit date, and introduce more time for further negotiations. A second public vote may even be considered, but this approach currently does not seem to have a majority in UK Parliament. If the negotiations for a new Brexit deal or extension on the March 29th departure deadline would all fail, a no-deal exit (hard Brexit) may be worse-case scenario, having a negative impact on UK's economy which could create shortages of food and medicine.
What impact will Brexit have on my studies in the UK?
Today, the Brexit negotiations are very much alive and outcome is still unclear. Irrespective of the outcome, at Eurofins Central Laboratory we ensure that Brexit contingency planning is in place to prepare for a no-deal Brexit proactively. Clinical studies in UK may be at risk to be impacted as import and export from and to the UK may be delayed. To support "business as usual" for the conduct of Clinical Study Protocols, we have put Brexit mitigations in place.
Prepare for Brexit Tool Kit:
Eurofins Central Laboratory has an internal Brexit team in place dedicated to mitigate potential impacts to the distribution of Specimen Collection Kits from our Netherlands Kit Packing Facility to UK investigator Sites (EU to UK) and to the shipments of collected samples from UK Investigator Sites to the Netherlands Central Laboratory Testing Facility (UK to EU). Our Brexit Team continuously monitors the ongoing discussions regarding Brexit, in the period preceding Brexit, and after March 29, 2019.
Kit Inventory Ordering
Six weeks before current formal Brexit date, Eurofins Central Laboratory will notify Sponsors and Investigator Sites to review the Specimen Collection Kit Inventory at-hand at each UK Investigator Site. If approved by Sponsor, Sites are recommended to pre-order kits by the end of February to ensure they have adequate kit supplies available for contingency.
Supplies - Air Freight v. Ground Transport
The kit supplies that are shipped from the Kit Packing Facility in the Netherlands to UK Investigator Sites will be upgraded to air freight versus ground transport for a 2-month period after March 29, 2019. Through this upgrade, we expect to avoid any immediate problems that may occur in the ports or any other ground transport location or pathway.
Inbound Flow of Samples in EU Central Laboratory
For the inbound flow of sending samples from UK Investigator Sites to the Eurofins Central Laboratory in Breda, The Netherlands, our preferred partner, DHL, will increase the number of flights to and from the UK as well as using larger aircrafts. By deploying the Medical Express service levels as a standard, the UK samples will have the highest priority status within the loading procedures of the DHL aircrafts. Furthermore, we have additional backup alternatives in place through our network of specialist couriers that include Marken, QuickStat, Ocasa, MNX, and others.
In the scenario that Britain leaves the EU with no deal, samples from UK Investigator Sites then originate from non-EU and would require customs declarations and invoices similar to other non-EU countries. Inbound shipments from UK to EU would also require adjustment of airway bills to refelct the change. Legacy airway bills that are already with UK Investigatory Sites can still be used during the transition period of supplying new airway bills to UK Investigator Sites. Eurofins Central Laboratory as a global company is well experienced with global customs procedures and we have therefore made arrangements to include the customs procedures to all our procedures linked to the UK. In addition to that, our logistics service providers have increased the customs brokerage capacity to process the additional customs declarations.
Kits and Logistics from the Organization You Trust
Embedded in the Eurofins BioPharma Services division, Eurofins Central Laboratory has over twenty years of experience in Global Kit Packing and Distribution Services, and full control of Global Logistics Management to transport samples back to the Central Laboratory Testing Facilities, or any other destination, either inside or outside the Eurofins BioPharma Services network. Eurofins utilizes preferred couriers which offer the best-case scenario based on the country in question and serivce being performed (ambient, cooled, or frozen shipments) to ensure specimen stability and the most cost-effective solution.
Being experts in the field, we ship specimen collection kits and receive samples across EU and non-EU borders every day and our transport management team proactively monitors all our shipments in the network of our couriers. In the period preceding Brexit, and after March 29, there will be a special focus on the shipments to and from the UK specifically.
The information and recommendations provided in this blog post are intended as an overview and outline of the matters covered in it. It does not provide legally binding advice. This information is subject to change to reflect the outcome of future Brexit negotiations and agreements, and will be updated regularly. Eurofins Central Laboratory BV shall not be liable for any loss, damage, cost, or expense incurred by any person or Client relying on such information or document in any way.