British Forces Cyprus is taking “prudent precautions” as the UK prepares to leave the EU, including some stockpiling in anticipation of some “initial friction”, General Patrick Sanders, the officer in charge of Joint Forces Command told Forces News.
He was speaking during a visit to the British Bases at Akrotiri and Dhekelia to check on no-deal preparations.
Gen Sanders admitted should the UK leave the EU without a deal on October 31, then he expects there to be “inconveniences and frictions”.
However, he said he is “very confident” in the preparations made.
“The primary focus has been on making sure that we can maintain our operational outputs,” Gen Sanders said.
“Whether it’s stocks or supplies, whether it’s the operation of the airfield, whether it’s the training that we do here – all of those things can continue and I’m very confident that’s in place.
“I’ve been, as I say, really impressed with the preparations that have been made in that area, so I’m pretty confident that the impact will be minimal.”
Ahead of the looming Brexit deadline, Gen Sanders said the bases are stockpiling in anticipation of “some initial friction”.
“I think stockpile suggests panic – we’re not stockpiling because we think there’s going to be a huge problem,” he said.
“We’re just taking the sort of prudent precautions that you would expect just to anticipate, possibly, some initial friction.
“We hope, we expect, that there’ll be none, but we’re a military organisation, we like to have reserves immaterial. We’re uncomfortable if we don’t, so we’ve got reserves immaterial.”
Gen Sanders also played down any concerns over healthcare, stating personnel and their families “shouldn’t notice a difference at all”.
If the UK reaches a deal with the EU, he said “people won’t notice very much at all”.
He said over the past 18 months, the UK has held “very productive discussions” on how the relationship with Cyprus will work post-Brexit.
In the event of a no-deal, Gen Sanders said the UK would “expect” to establish working practices and protocols “very, very quickly”.
While admitting a no-deal will cause “some frictions”, he expects British Forces Cyprus to “ease through”.
“People will just simply adjust very quickly to a different way of doing business to what we are at the moment.”
One thing that is for certain is the process in which military personnel and their families based in Cyprus receive parcels will change.
General Sanders said personnel will be “expected” to pay duty tax on parcels worth €18 or more.
While there will be “no change at all” with letters, General Sanders said orders from online retailer Amazon will cause the most problems.
He said they are working alongside the British Forces Post Office in London and retailers, including Amazon, to find a way in which an order is “delivered without tax having been added in the UK”.
“It’ll be held here very briefly, you’ll get a note which says here’s how much money you owe for this particular parcel, you can pay that online without having to leave home,” he said.