Here’s what we know so far about what’s in the Brexit deal
Written by on 25 December 2020
Now the fate of trade between the UK and EU from 2021 has been secured, many will be keen to see the details of the deal struck on Christmas Eve.
There is still much that is not yet clear, but here’s what we know so far about the agreement detailing what lies ahead on 1 January 2021 when the transition period ends and the new treaty comes into effect.
Having been one of the major sticking points in negotiations, both sides ended up giving some ground on fishing.
During a five-and-a-half year transition period, the amount that EU fishermen and women can catch in British waters will fall by 25% – from current levels of around half to one third.
Brussels originally demanded the transition last 14 years, while the UK had pushed for an even lower EU quota .
Boris Johnson said it meant Britain would see its share of fish rise “substantially”.
But Ireland’s prime minister, Micheal Martin, admitted fishing communities would be left “disappointed” at the outcome.
And Barrie Deas, head of the UK National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, said Mr Johnson “was willing to sacrifice fishing” and made “significant concessions” – leaving the industry “extremely disappointed”.
“We have secured increases in quota from the EU but they don’t come anywhere close to what our entitlement is in international law,” he added.
The biggest effect is that British businesses can export goods to the EU without having to pay extra charges (tariffs) or facing limits on the quantity they can sell (quotas) – worth around GBP668bn a year.
But there will be no more automatic recognition of qualifications for doctors, nurses, dentists, engineers and vets. Instead, they will have to seek recognition in whichever member state they go to practise in.
Level playing field
What will be the impact of Brexit trade deal?
The EU feared that Britain could have an unfair advantage over member states in terms of state subsidies and standards.
Agreement was reached that the UK will not have to follow EU rules but should respect certain principles on areas such as the environment and workers’ rights.
These will be reviewed in four years.
After 1 January, UK 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”, according to Mr Johnson.
Transport and travel
Brussels said the agreement would ensure passenger rights and transport safety are not undermined.
But the deal still means British tourists could feel a number of impacts, including possible mobile roaming charges in the EU – if operators choose to impose them.
When the transition period ends, UK travellers will still be able to visit most EU countries without a visa and can stay for up to 90 days in any rolling 180-day period – with the exception of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania, which do not count towards the allowance.
Britons’ passports must have at least six months left on them when they travel, and be less than 10 years old.
From 2022, UK nationals will have to pay for a visa-waiver scheme to visit many EU countries, and the European Health Insurance Card will no longer be valid.
There will also be a new system for bringing pets on holiday, with people having to apply for an animal health certificate 10 days before travelling.
The UK will have to automatically forfeit its membership of Europol, Eurojust, the European Arrest Warrant and data-sharing agreements such as the Schengen Information System.
But Mr Johnson said the new deal “protects our police co-operation, protects our ability to catch criminals and share intelligence across the European continent in the way we have done for many years”.
It is still feared that losing access to these agreements will make the UK less secure.
But the European Commission has confirmed there are plans for “a new framework for law enforcement and judicial co-operation”.
A Brussels briefing note said the UK would no longer have “direct, real-time access” to sensitive databases covering freedom, security and justice – but that it hoped for “timely, effective, efficient and reciprocal exchanges” of air passenger details and criminal record information, as well as DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration data.
In a blow to students, the Erasmus programme – which allowed young people to study across Europe – is not part of the deal.
However, Mr Johnson said a new worldwide scheme would be introduced, named after Bletchley Park code-breaker Alan Turing.
People and businesses are still being urged to prepare for the end of the transition period, but the prime minister has said there are “all sorts of things” in the agreement to ensure “things flow as smoothly as we possibly can” at the borders.