BREXIT SERIES: (1) What Now?

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Demonstrators near the Westminster Parliament, December 2018


On 31 January 2020, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen lamented that “as the sun rises tomorrow, a new chapter for our union of 27 will start.” Alluding to the UK, now ex-EU member, she added: “Strength does not lie in splendid isolation, but in our unique union.”

The EU has lost the UK. Or, put differently, the UK has lost the EU. Put it any way you like. It hardly matters now, does it?


Transition period
Actually, not everything is final. There’s a transition period that will last until the end of 2020 in which the UK and EU will negotiate additional arrangements. The current rules on trade, travel, and business for the UK and the EU will continue to apply during the period. (Meaning, for the time being the UK will stay in the EU’s customs union and single market and will still be under the jurisdiction of the EU’s European Court of Justice. Freedom of movement, where people are concerned, will not be cancelled out. For example, Brits, EU citizens, and legal residents from third countries can go on moving around the EU plus the UK as they used to do before 31 January 2020.)

New rules will take effect on 1 January 2021.

Preparing your business as Brits
From 1 January 2021, it will be an entirely new game. Brits will need to make customs declarations to move goods into and out of the EU. They should get an EORI (Economic Operators Registration and Identification) number if they do not already have one. They have to decide how they want to make customs declarations and whether they need to get someone to deal with customs for them. (Note that a gigantic customs union between the EU and the post-Brexit UK, which Boris Johnson favors, is being bandied around. Should this eventually take place, the rules of the game will drastically change.)

You’re an EU citizens living in the UK?
If you or your family are from the EU, or from Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you might need to apply to the settlement scheme.
Check what you need to do to stay in the UK

Brits Living and working in the EU
Living and working in an EU country depends on the rules in that country. Brits may need to register or apply for residency. They must make sure they’re covered for healthcare. They may also need to exchange their UK driving license for a license issued by the EU country where they live.
Check what you must do in the country where you live.

See Guidance: Living in Europe

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Featured image/ChiralJon, CC BY 2.0