After considerable and often controversial negotiation between the UK and the EU, the Brexit free trade agreement became effective 31 Dec 2020. Free trade agreement terms include a number of significant provisions within the 1200 pages of this important document.
Imports and exports will continue without tariffs or quotas. Beginning in January, however, extra checks and additional paperwork will be required from businesses at the border. This in itself will add to the usual congestion and confusion at the border. In addition, the EU gave Britain a “3rd country listing.” This means it has met the necessary health standards and can now export live animals and animal products. Current arrangements continue for moving freight by air, sea, and land.
Additional specific rules have been added to the agreement which will apply to carrying automotive, chemical, petrochemical, wine, and organic produce.
Financial and other services account for approximately 80% of the economic activity in the UK. Although access to a single market in the EU is no longer automatic; access to most areas is allowed. Arrangements for services in the City are handled by a separate agency.
The professional qualifications of doctors, nurses, and architects are only recognized for short-term assignments and business arrangements.
Travelers with UK Global Health Insurance cards can receive emergency health care. The UK Health Cards for travelers replaced the European Emergency Health Cards. EU students who are studying in the UK have to pay upfront for health care. They then can request a refund under the new Brexit rules. (https://inews.co.uk)
Fair and transparent rates will apply to mobile phone roaming for both the UK and the EU.
EU pet passports will no longer be valid.
FREE TRADE IN FARMING
Although farmers are assured of free trade, for the most part, border checks, more paperwork, and export health certificates will be required.
EU fishermen can continue fishing in UK waters with one stipulation. The value of their catch will
be reduced by 25% percent which will be phased in over 5 1/2 years until June 2026. In addition, quotas for over 100 kinds of fish will be assigned.
STANDARDS AND STATE AID
Fortunately, Britain can establish their own standards for environmental protection and employment rights. Should there be an issue with any of these standards, additional tariffs may be levied.
Providing state aid is Britain’s responsibility, but it too may be challenged by the EU.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS IN BREXIT
IMMIGRATION & PASSPORTS
Immigrant skilled workers must have a minimum salary of £25,600 to be included in the new point system. A minimum salary of £20,480 is required for workers filling job shortages in certain occupations.
British travelers on holiday in Europe can stay 90 days in a 6-month period before needing a visa.
Alcohol and cigarette purchases must be declared before entering the UK from the EU. EU passengers must present ID, pass security checks, and may be asked about the purpose of their travel.
EU citizens will be subject to checks by the landlord when trying to rent property.
If you were already in the EU before Brexit took effect, your status remains semi-permanent. You have 6 months to obtain permanent legal citizenship. Should you choose not to do this, you will lose all the rights you were previously entitled to.
Access to main databases is no longer available for British citizens except by special request. They also lose their membership in Europol, the law enforcement agency for the EU.
If either Britain or the EU believe the competition is not fair, an unbiased arbitration committee can be requested. This committee can impose limited taxes or import/export duties to correct the imbalance. Fortunately for Britain, this mechanism will not involve EU law or the European Court of Justice. Either side can request a review of the entire trade agreement.
Future Of Brexit
Many celebrate Brexit as a long-awaited day of liberation for Britain from the EU. They envision a future of free trade with countries in the EU and the U.S., as well as political and economic reform and renewal. Whether this dramatic change will prove worthwhile remains to be seen.