Europe & UK

February 03, 2020

Brexit: UK leaves the European Union

[ by Kavita Krishnan ]


The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union involving 28 European countries. It allows free trade, which means goods can move between member countries without any checks or extra charges. The EU also allows free movement of people, to live and work in whichever country they choose. The UK joined in 1973 (when it was known as the European Economic Community) and is the first member state to withdraw.

The UK has officially left the European Union on 31st January 2020 after 47 years of membership - and more than three years after it voted to do so in a referendum. The UK has now entered an 11 month transition period.

The UK will leave all of the EU’s political institutions and agencies. The UK would be following EU rules during the transition period. Additionally the European Court of Justice will continue to have the final authority over legal disputes.

The UK Prime Minister or other British Ministers will have to receive special invitation in order to be able to join EU Council summits in the future. The UK would be able to start negotiating with other countries around the world about setting new rules for trading of goods and services. As an EU member, UK was not been allowed to hold formal trade negotiations with countries like the US and Australia. According to Brexit supporters, having the freedom to set its own trade policy will boost the UK’s economy.

Approving on a UK-EU trade deal would be a top priority for UK, so that extra charges on goods and other trade barriers aren’t levied when the transition ends. Also if any trade deals are reached, they won’t be able to start until the transition period ends.

The team that handled the UK-EU negotiations and no-deal preparations has been disbanded on Brexit day. For the upcoming talks, the UK’s negotiating team will be based in Downing Street.

Post Brexit, it would not be possible for some suspected criminals to be brought back to the UK if they escape to Germany because Germany’s constitution does not allow its citizens to be extradited, unless it’s to another EU country. According to the UK Home Office, the European Arrest Warrant will continue to apply during the transition period. (Germany will be able to extradite non-German citizens during the 11 month period.) However, if a country’s laws prevent extradition to the UK it "will be expected to take over the trial or sentence of the person concerned".

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) – the cards that provide UK nationals with state-provided medical treatment in case of illness or accident, can be used in any EU country (as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and will continue to be valid during the transition period.

During the transition period, freedom of movement will continue to apply. UK nationals would be able to live and work in the EU as they did prior to Brexit. The same applies for EU nationals wanting to live and work in the UK.

As far as Pensions are concerned, UK nationals living in the EU will continue to receive their state pension and will also receive the annual increase. During the transition, the UK will continue to pay into the EU budget which means existing schemes, paid for by EU grants, will continue to be funded.

On the trade front, UK-EU trade will continue without any extra charges or checks being introduced.

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