Negotiations between the UK and EU on our post-Brexit transition period trading relationship with the EU from 1st January 2021 concluded on 24th December 2020 with the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
The UK’s membership of the European Union ended on 31st January 2020; the end of the transition period saw the UK’s exit from the EU’s single market and customs union; and the start of a new relationship with the EU.
A number of significant legal and practical changes were inevitable irrespective of the outcome of the protracted negotiations, however, it is only now that the negotiations concluded that it is possible to seek to fully understand the details and implications.
The “deal” is a “free trade agreement” for World Trade Organisation rule purposes, however, it is unique – in that normally such agreements result in a lowering of costs and relaxation of restrictions – whereas, due to it coming into effect at the expiry of the transition period, on this occasion the net effect is that restrictions and cost are introduced (albeit they are less than would have been the case without the agreement).
The Agreement itself runs to 1246 pages plus ancillary documents. Much of the “no tariffs and no trade barrier” headline outcomes are not as straight forward as initial official summaries might suggest, as they are caveated. Additionally, although the UK chose not to delay approval, the agreement is provisional pending EU member scrutiny – which will run until the end of February.
So, the devil really is in the detail … and the accompanying red tape.
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