politics

Brexit deal explained – 5 things agreed by UK and EU and what it means for you


It took 1664 days since the UK voted to leave the EU, but a post-Brexit trade deal has been agreed by negotiators after months of talks and frantic last-minute wrangling.

A UK source said the deal delivered “everything that the British public was promised during the 2016 referendum”.

But with millions of people voting for a myriad of reasons – it is fair to say that isn’t possible.

Not to mention there isn’t currently any sign of a cash injection for the NHS.

But that aside the deal contains a lot of detail in its 500+ pages.

The UK said that the deal is the biggest bilateral trade deal signed by either side, covering trade worth £668 billion in 2019.

Here is everything you need to know

5 key points agreed by the UK and EU

1. Tariff-free trade



Manufacturing had said it needed tariff free access to the EU

The trade agreement between London and Brussels offers the UK and EU preferential access to each other’s markets, compared with basic World Trade Organization rules.

This mean little or no tariffs or quotas on most of the UK’s £660bn-a-year trade with the continent.

But trade still won’t be as smooth as it was when we were members of the EU. It’s not as bad as no-deal but it’s as good as being an EU member – at least in terms of tariff-free trade.

Our access to the EU market will face significant barriers after December 31, despite the fact we won’t have no-deal tariffs on our trade.

That is because businesses have to carry out customs declarations on UK-EU trade for the first time.

These so-called ‘non-tariff barrier costs’ are expected to rise by 4% to 8%, according to farmers’ bodies.

It will leave Britain facing a 4% loss of potential gross domestic product over 15 years compared with EU membership, according to the UK’s Office for Budget Responsibility.

No10 say some barriers have been removed, including through streamlined customs arrangements; Trusted Trader Schemes; cooperation on public, animal and plant health; measures to overcome Technical Barriers to Trade; and Key provisions in Rules of Origin to support key companies such as Nissan and Toyota.

2. Fishing



Fishing was a mjor roadblock in talks

The most heated part of negotiations with the EU – and, the Mirror understands, the final section to be wound up.

Official figures show fishing was worth £437m to the UK economy in 2019, compared to the financial services industry which was worth £126bn.

For Brexiteers, fishing was a key area where the UK would regain its sovereignty after leaving the EU.

But it is also sensitive for EU countries with big fishing industries like France and Denmark, who have pushed the EU to maintain a hard line.

EU chiefs wanted 14 years of access to British waters, while the UK wanted an immediate return to our control.

In the end , both sides agreed a five-and-a-half-year transition period before the UK has full sovereignty over its own waters. This was more than the three years long demanded by the UK in talks as a compromise.

The UK share of fish caught in its own waters will rise to reclaim 25% of fish currently caught by EU trawlers by 2026. Originally the UK had demanded 80% of the EU’s quotas in UK waters.

The UK said this is still worth £146m for the UK fleet phased in over five years.

Mr Johnson said: “Compromise isn’t a dirty word – and there are unquestionably things we’ve done to help our friends and partners to move things forward.”

3. Level playing field



European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a press statement following a phone call meeting with Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a press statement following a phone call meeting with Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson

The level playing field is a term for a set of common rules and standards to ensure fair competition.

This prevents businesses in one country with one set of laws (the UK) gaining an advantage over those in other countries with other laws (the EU).

Under these rules, each side will be able “as sovereign equals” to take action if the other side undercuts their industry.

This means the EU will be able to slap tariffs on UK exports if the UK is seen to undercut EU rules – and vice versa.

But Boris Johnson insisted this would have to be “proportionate”, infrequent and “subject to arbitration”.

No10 said any trade “distortion” in these cases would have to be proven to have lasted six months or more, and be considered by an independent arbitration panel.

However, it will be four years before the first formal review of the arrangements, which could be a long time in politics.

The EU, which brought enforcement action against Mr Johnson’s government over planned breaches of the Withdrawal Agreement was less charitable. EU Chief Ursula von der Leyen said there were “strong measures” in the agreement to punish one side if they violated the terms of the deal.

In a not so coded attack on Mr Johnson, who previously threatened to break deals with the EU, she said: “From experience we’ve had we built in the safeguards to ensure that there are strong incentives for both sides to do what they agreed to”.

The deal does, however, stop short of the EU’s original demands for the UK to solve the issue by mirroring EU laws.

4. Security

No-one wants the post-Brexit security relationship to be worse than it was before, but there are technical and legal constraints on what can be achieved now that the UK is outside the EU.

Because the principles of the EU single market apply to internal security and justice just as much as they do to trade, and non-members cannot have as close a relationship as members do.

Once the post-Brexit transition period ends on 31 December, the UK will be out of the single market and such close co-operation will no longer be allowed.

But both Brussels and London has insisted that the deal secures solid security and police co-operation – and they have both said it remains a priority in their relationship.

5. European Court of Justice



The deal will be voted on by MPs on December 30th

The EU’s top court is a major bugbear for Brexiteers, with Boris Johnson insisting that the UK would not agree to a deal which had a role for the court.

It is understood that the agreement does not have a role for the European Court of Justice, a concession by the EU who were insisting on using it to resolve disputes.

Instead, it is understood the two sides have agreed a system to sort out disputes that follows international law, rather than EU law.

Other major elements in the deal

Healthcare: Both sides say the deal will preserve the rights of Brits abroad to get free healthcare in another European country, like they can under the European Health Insurance Card. Until now, the UK had been advising its citizens to get healthcare because their needs might not be covered after January 1 when EHICs expire in the UK. But a government summary said: “The Protocol will ensure necessary healthcare provisions – akin to those provided by the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme – continue. This means individuals who are temporarily staying in another country, for example a UK national who is in an EU Member State for a holiday, will have their necessary healthcare needs met for the period of their stay.”

Transport: The agreement provides for “continued and sustainable air, road, rail and maritime connectivity”, the European Commission said, with provisions to ensure passenger rights and transport safety are not undermined. That means fears planes would be grounded or cross-Channel bus services halted have now been avoided.

Laws: Mr Johnson said that after January 1, British laws “will be made solely by the British Parliament interpreted by British judges sitting in UK courts and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice will come to an end”.

Benefits and pensions: There will also be the “coordination of some social security benefits” – pensions, healthcare, maternity and paternity leave and accidents at work – making it easier to work abroad without losing rights, but we await the detail. But No10 is following through on its long-held vow to block people “exporting” child benefits abroad.

Services: No10 said the deal has measures to allow UK solicitors, barristers and advocates to practice in the EU using their UK title.

What the deal means for you

Food and clothes prices

Our access to the EU market will face significant barriers after December 31, with non-tariff barrier costs expected to rise by 4% to 8%, according to farmers bodies.

The London School of Economics estimates that with a variety of other costs adding up, there’ll be a 4.7% price rise on unbranded products from the EU.

That said, as new trade deals with non-EU countries roll in, anything could happen.

This will inevitably end up being passed on to the consumer.

Your rights to live and work in the EU

From January 1, EU citizens can’t move to the UK unless they have a job offer, earn at least £20,480 (often more), speak good English and have certain skills.

In return, UK citizens must get permission to live or work in EU nations and will need a visa for most trips over 90 days.

EU nationals already living in the UK must register for “settled status” by June 30, 2021. To get settled status, you must have been living in the UK for at least five years continuously, without a break of more than six months.

If you have not been in the UK for this long, you can get “pre-settled status”. You will then have to make a second application when you reach the five-year mark to upgrade it to settled status.

If you’re a UK national in the EU, you may need to apply for residency status there before June 2021. You may also need to buy health insurance or register for healthcare.

Your right to study in the EU

The UK has quit the Erasmus student exchange programme after Brexit, complaining it is too “expensive”.

The scheme allows UK university students to study abroad in one of 32 participating nations. Some can get a “large contribution” to their tuition fees back in the UK as well as a grant of up to €350 a month.

But Boris Johnson complained the programme, which the UK joined in 1987, was “extremely expensive”.

He announced the UK will launch a replacement programme named after Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing. The Prime Minister boasted the new ‘Turing Scheme’ will allow students to study at universities across the world, not just Europe.

But he gave no details of how it will work, including what it will cost or when it will start.

Universities UK slammed the “disappointing” decision and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said it was one of his only two regrets.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon branded it an act of “cultural vandalism”.

Travel and Holidays



The future of work
There are big changes for travellers

There are some big changes and you might notice them next time you head to the continent on holiday.

You must renew your passport six months early and pay to visit the EU from 2022

You do not automatically need a new passport. Your old one remains valid even if it says the European Union on the cover. But you must renew your passport if it has less than six months to run on the day you travel.

Your passport must also be no more than 10 years old.

At the moment, UK citizens can enter Schengen Area countries with a valid passport even if they have only a day left. As a tourist, you will still be able to travel to most EU countries plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, without a visa.

And you’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any rolling 180-day period.

But from 2022, UK nationals will have to pay for a visa-waiver scheme in order to visit many European countries.

You’ll also no longer be able to use EU fast-track passport control and customs lanes.

Businesses face quite a lot of disruption – and there could be delays at the border



Officials are hoping to avoid more chaos in Kent at the end of the year

The Government is braced for disruption as lorries go through new checks. Disruption may not be limited to freight ports. Eurostar is asking passengers to arrive “a little earlier than usual” and “at least one hour before departure” due to new checks.

If you run a Business, there’s a lot of new paperwork

Business owners will need to make customs declarations when they import or export to and from the EU.

If you run a business, you will need an EORI number to do this.

If you don’t get one by December 31, your goods may be delayed.

Importers will also need to check what new licences and certificates they may now need. Firms will need to check the rules for importing alcohol, tobacco and certain oils.





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