Against the backdrop of a global pandemic and the beginning of Christmas festivities, an historic deal was struck.
On 24 December 2020, a post-Brexit trade deal was agreed between the UK and the EU thereby avoiding the possibility of tariffs on goods under the alternative “no deal” scenario. The UK parliament backed the agreement on 30 December 2020 enabling the trade deal to be signed into law just one day before the end of the transitional period following the UK’s exit from the EU on 31 January 2020.
The agreement, effective from 11pm on 31 December 2020, is a lengthy and complicated document covering a multitude of issues with the following considered to be key ones: –
- There will be no trade tariffs or quotas between the UK and the EU from 1 January 2021, but cross border safety checks and customs declarations will be necessary
- UK firms supplying many types of services will no longer have an automatic right to access the EU market with UK professional qualifications also no longer automatically recognised in the EU
- UK nationals will need visas for stays longer than 90 days in the EU in a 180 day period in most cases
- The UK will gain an increasing share of fish from UK waters over the next 5½ years
- The European Court of Justice will have no role in the UK with any UK-EU disputes that cannot be resolved by the parties themselves referred to an independent tribunal instead
- The UK will no longer be obliged to comply with EU standards of data protection, be a member of Europol or have an automatic right to key security databases, although it is envisaged that there will be little practical impact around security and data
- UK students (other than those studying at universities in Northern Ireland) will no longer be able to participate in the EU Erasmus scheme
With a trade and co-operation agreement now in place, we look forward to the next chapter of the story that began in June 2016 when the UK voted to leave the EU. Interesting times lay ahead.