Brexit – what changes will the transition period bring?

February 5, 2020

On Friday 31st January, Britain has left the European Union. The UK will now enter a transition period which will last for the next 11 months. Not much will change during the transition period in the current UK-EU relationships. The EU rules and laws will continue to apply in the United Kingdom and the UK would continue to pay the regular EU budget contributions. The existing programs in the UK,  paid with EU subsidies will continue to be financed. The European Court of Justice will remain to be the highest court for the legal disputes in the UK. The transition period will be the time when the British government would work on defining and setting new relationships with the EU.

Following the UK withdrawal, the new trade deal will need to be negotiated. During the transition, the trade between the UK and EU will remain the same and there will be no extra charges, checks or trade barriers on goods. In the next 11 months, the new trade rules and regulations would need to be agreed between the UK and the EU. While the member of the EU, the UK was not allowed to negotiate any official trade deals with other countries as for example the US or Australia. Now, Britain will enter a negotiation with the countries around the world to secure new trade deals but won’t be able to implement them immediately, while in the withdrawal process. Many of Brexit supporters previously believed that new trade deals with partners all over the world would have a positive effect on the UK’s economy grow. The government will now start formal negotiations with other countries and blocks to obtain new deals. We can expect that in the next few months news would be loaded with information about the attempted trade negotiations. 

In terms of travel, again nothing will automatically change on 31st January. The EU passports and identity card will remain to be a valid proof of identity. During the next 11 months, all UK nationals will be allowed to travel to Europe as usual. Freedom of movement for the EU citizens will still be in operation. Now, the government will work to pass new laws to regulate immigration from the EU after the transition period. The most probably the visa system will be introduced. EU citizens would need to obtain a visa to be able to live and work in the United Kingdom. All EU citizens already living in the UK will have right to remain but they need to apply for the settlement scheme until 30 June 2021 or for the naturalization as a British citizen if they have been living and working in the UK for the past 5 years without any significant gaps. Majority of EU nationals have already followed this process and regulated their immigration status. People who reside in the UK for the period shorter than 5 years can still apply for the pre-settled status and then changed it to fully settle status once they will reach the required five years period. Up to the end of 2020 and the end of the transition period, all EU citizens will still have the right to move to the UK but all of them would need to apply for the settlement scheme. The government will also work to set new rules and laws for the future immigration system. It is not known yet what will be the rules for anyone arriving after the transition period. It could be expected that the future immigration system introduced by the government will be based on point system same similar to the one which applies to people from outside the EU. To get a visa, each application is assessed according to points assign for skills, salary and profession. Visas are given to those applicants who have reached a certain level of points. The UK citizens who are now living and working in the European Union would need to also apply for the special residence status. Further information can be found on the UK government website which provides a country-specific guide. UK nationals who wish to return to the UK after Brexit together with the family member, an EU national will be allowed to do so without the need for applying for a visa by 29 March 2022. After that date, the relative would need to fill and send the visa application.

Both the UK and EU politicians are working to provide the smooth conditions of Brexit for its citizen. However, everyone is advised to check the news and government websites regularly to be informed about the current developments.

Alicja Prochniak

Source: BBC News

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