The Final Brexit Agreement: EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement
Citizens on both sides of the channel were relieved that the Christmas Eve agreement avoided the feared no-deal exit which could have led to dire economic consequences. The worst case scenario was avoided but much will change between the EU and UK, nonetheless.
On January 1, 2021 the UK left the EU Single Market and Customs Union, as well as all EU policies and international agreements, putting an end to the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital with the EU. The EU and the UK are now two separate markets, two distinct regulatory and legal spaces. Barriers to trade in goods and services and to cross-border mobility and exchanges, that have not existed for decades, are back in place.
Free movement of goods
The free movement of goods will end. Customs checks and controls will apply to all UK exports entering the EU. UK agri-food consignments will have to have health certificates and undergo sanitary and phytosanitary controls at Member States’ border inspection posts. This will cost UK businesses time and money.
Free movement of services
The free movement of services will end. UK service providers will no longer benefit from the country-of-origin principle. They will have to comply with the – varying – rules of each Member State, or relocate to the EU if they want to continue operating as they do today. There will be no more mutual recognition of professional qualifications. UK financial services firms will lose their financial services passports.
Free movement of persons
UK citizens will no longer have the freedom to work, study, start a business or live in the EU. They will need visas for long-term stays in the EU. Border checks will apply, passports will need to be stamped, and EU pet passports will no longer be valid for UK residents.
Travelling to the UK and to the EU
Until October 2021, it will be possible for EU citizens to enter the UK by using their ID cards or passport which must be valid for 6 months. After then, it will be necessary to have a biometric passport. There will no longer be free circulation between the EU and UK, thus placing restrictions on those who want to visit, work, study or live in the UK.
First of all, visiting the UK will be possible without a visa but limited to three consecutive months (up to a total of 180 days.) Travelers can only carry a maximum of £10,000 in cash (undeclared) and will need to buy travel insurance as EU health cards will no longer be valid. EU driver’s licenses will be recognized but drivers will have to have car insurance. For those traveling with pets, a veterinary’s certificate dated no more than 10 days prior to departure will be required as the EU pet passport will not be accepted.
UK citizens will need visas for long-term stays in the EU. Border checks will apply, passports will need to be stamped, and EU pet passports will no longer be valid for UK residents.
Living and working in the UK and in the EU
EU citizens who were already living in the UK on December 31, 2020 have until June 30, 2021 to ask for pre-settled or settled status. Those arriving after January 1, 2021 can only stay for 60 days without having a visa to stay or work there. The new rules create a points system which will not privilege EU citizens. Visas will only be given to those who can give an ‘economic contribution’ to Britain, essentially denying entrance to non-qualified workers. To be awarded a visa, workers must give proof of qualification to work in the professions which the government deems essential ( e.g., doctors, scientists or computer experts. ) A non-essential worker must have a job offer in hand with a yearly salary of at least £25,600 and a B1 level certificate in English. The visa will cost from £610 to £1,409 depending on the type of job. It will also be necessary to pay £624 to be covered by the NHS. Furthermore, the bilateral agreement does not recognize professional qualifications. New negotiations are to be held to determine professional recognition sector by sector in hopes of facilitating the now-existing difficulties.
As said above, the free movement of persons will end. UK citizens will no longer have the freedom to work, study, start a business or live in the EU. They will need visas for long-term stays in the EU.
Studying in the UK
EU students will become international ones starting from September 2021. In practical terms, this means that university fees will double or in some cases even triple and students must pay £348 for a student visa. Unfortunately, the UK will leave the Erasmus program, closing the door to highly beneficial Erasmus exchange experiences in the UK.
Roaming and duty-free
The status of cell phone use is not as yet clear. Roaming will no longer be guaranteed by the EU. Although phone providers have not increased tariffs for EU users in the UK yet, they may do so in the future. Changes have also occurred regarding duty-free shopping. The British government has eliminated duty-free tariffs on clothing, accessories and electronics and no longer forsees VAT reimbursement for articles acquired in the UK. Limits have been reinstated on the quantity of cigarettes and alcohol which can be imported tax-free.
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One curious note before signing off. Although former ‘first lady’, Lady Macbeth, declared that “what is done cannot be undone” (Macbeth, Act V), while trying to rub evidence of her dark deeds off her hands, she may be proven wrong when it comes to Scotland and Brexit. In fact, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared (on twitter), “Scotland will be back soon, Europe. Keep the light on.”
Perhaps this time the Scots will be able to undo what has been done by fellow Britons.
At any rate, we’ll keep the midnight oil burning here at Vademecum Italia and will be sure to enlighten our readers as changes occur.
We would also like to take advantage of this opportunity to wish all of our readers a prosperous, healthy and Happy New Year!