Brexit: The agreement with EU explained

Brexit: The agreement with EU explained

On 24th December 2020, the UK reached an agreement with the EU for the end of the Brexit transition period. These new rules will come into force at 11pm on 31st December 2020.

Below is a highlighted version of the government’s Summary Explainer, which you can find in full here.

Trade and Cooperation Agreement: Overview

The United Kingdom and the European Union have agreed to 100% tariff liberalisation. This means there will be no tariffs or quotas on the movement of goods we produce between the UK and the EU.

The Agreement also includes provisions to support trade in services (including financial services and legal services). This will provide many UK service suppliers with legal guarantees that they will not face barriers to trade when selling into the EU and will support the mobility of UK professionals who will continue to do business across the EU.

Trade in Goods

The Agreement establishes zero tariffs or quotas on trade between the UK and the EU, where goods meet the relevant rules of origin.

The UK and EU have agreed a rules of origin Chapter which contains modern and appropriate rules of origin ensuring that only ‘originating’ goods are able to benefit from the liberalised market access arrangements agreed in the TCA, while reflecting the requirements of UK and EU industry.

The Chapter also provides for full bilateral cumulation (cumulation of both materials and processing) between the UK and the EU, allowing EU inputs and processing to be counted as UK input in UK products exported to the EU and vice versa.

Transport of goods by road

The Agreement ensures continued market access rights for UK and EU road haulage operators. Operators will continue to be able to move goods to, from and through each other’s territories with no permit requirements, and make additional movements within each other’s territories, with limits on the number of permitted movements.

The Agreement also sets out the standards to which operators must adhere when undertaking international journeys between the UK and the EU.

These standards only apply to international journeys and do not affect the UK’s ability to regulate the domestic market. These standards for the international carriage of goods broadly reflect the standards to which UK operators are already subject when operating internationally, with some bespoke standards aimed at ensuring greater road safety and effective regulation.

The Agreement includes a declaration reiterating the importance of the good and efficient management of visa and border arrangements for road hauliers, in particular across the United Kingdom-Union border. This declaration confirms the UK and EU’s agreement to appropriately facilitate the entry and stay of hauliers.

Visas for short-term visits

At present the United Kingdom provides for visa-free travel for short-term visits in respect of nationals of all Member States.

Law Enforcement and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters

The safety and security of our citizens is the Government’s top priority. The Agreement provides a comprehensive package of operational capabilities that will help protect the public and bring criminals to justice.

Health Security

The Agreement supports effective arrangements and information sharing between the UK and the EU in the event of a serious cross border threat to health, which is particularly important in the context of Covid-19. The agreement enables the UK to request access to the EU’s Early Warning and Response System in respect of a serious cross-border health threat so that the UK, the EU institutions and EU Member States can exchange information and coordinate measures to protect public health.

Cyber Security

The Agreement provides a framework for UK-EU cooperation in the field of cyber security, an area where cooperation is mutually beneficial given the cross-border nature of cyber threats and challenges.

Providing an initial response to the announcement that the UK and EU have  reached  a trade  agreement, BCC Director General Adam Marshall said: 

“After four long years of uncertainty and upheaval, and just days before the end of transition, businesses will be able to muster little more than a muted and weary cheer.  

“While firms will welcome the agreement of a new foundation for UK-EU trade, they are now faced with the gargantuan task of adapting to new arrangements with scarcely a week before they take effect.   

“Businesses will need to digest the contents of the deal and  consider what its provisions mean for the movement of goods, people  and data  across borders, as well as for their supply chains and partners.  

“We repeat that it is the responsibility of Government to give firms clear, precise and detailed guidance so that they can make the required changes quickly. Far too many details and procedures have been left, literally, to the last minute. 

“Let’s not forget that many businesses are already on their knees from the impact of the Coronavirus crisis, and most will have fewer resources available to implement the necessary changes with furloughed staff and Christmas holidays.  

“It is now time to bring the political drama  of the last four years to an end,  and to replace it with pragmatism  and determination to make the new UK-EU relationship work."

“Governments on both sides must recognise the impossible task they have set businesses and give businesses time  and breathing space to  adjust to new realities. It is normal for free trade  agreements to come with phasing-in measures,  and this one should be no different. 

“Now that the two sides have reached  agreement, we call on them to proceed speedily to give certainty to our economies  and trade, and to allow businesses to look to the future.  

“It is now time to bring the political drama  of the last four years to an end,  and to replace it with pragmatism  and determination to make the new UK-EU relationship work. The agreement can and must be a starting point for deeper cooperation as we restart, rebuild and renew our economies.  

“With greater clarity on the terms of trade, businesses can plan, invest, and look once again toward new opportunities.”  

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