Brexit is affecting the lives of families in Europe

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Polly Toynbee’s excellent article (The Brexit deal was astonishingly bad, and every day the evidence piles up, 16 March) has prompted me to write. I am a 62-year old British woman living in Germany because of my husband’s job. So far we have lost rights and exchanged our driving licences for German ones. I no longer buy clothes from my favourite British companies or wool from a small business in my hometown in Wales.

Although I wanted to remain in the EU, I try to stay calm and look for any benefits from our situation. So far, one advantage is that we now have permanent residence permits that act as identification and this saves me taking my passport to collect a parcel from the post office, etc.

Recently, I tried to send a T-shirt and jeans to my grandson in England. As the German post office had previously lost a parcel of handmade clothes, I have since used GLS parcel service. When I looked on the website, I found that it no longer delivers to the UK. I tried various other companies but only found information about commercial parcels and resigned myself to going to the post office. Any parcel now needs to be accompanied by completed customs form CN23, which requires 15 pieces of information including material, weight, country of manufacture and cost of every item (plus a total weight and value), even if these are gifts.

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I’m sure that this was not the expected consequence of our Brexit deal, but this is now the reality. My problems are nothing compared with those of the businesses that depend on trade, but they are just an illustration of life diminished.
Juliet Guthrie
Ockenheim, Germany

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Polly Toynbee highlights the effect on trade, but very little attention has been paid to the impact on individuals. Our family is spread around the globe: a daughter in the Republic of Ireland, another in England and a son in the US, while we have been permanent residents in Italy for over a decade. Because of Covid, we have been unable to make our annual car journey to visit our daughter in England, which had allowed us to stock up with hard-to-find essentials, books etc, and have had to depend on purchasing online or our daughter posting them.

Since the transition period ended this is no longer an option, as even items sent as presents from England are subject to VAT and extra handling charges imposed by couriers and postal services. For example, four cushion covers along with dried spices and books sent by our daughter in England cost us €44 in addition to the £25 courier charge she had already paid.

So in addition to being isolated from our family for over a year due to Covid, we are also unable to receive items from England due to the additional cost caused by Brexit.
Patricia Law
Pisa, Italy