The UK-EU trade deal is now in effect and in PM Boris Johnson’s final message of 2020, says the UK has “freedom in our hands” and to “make the most of it.”
Historic changes to rules on travel, trade, immigration and security officially came into effect at 11pm on 31 January 2020. The UK now enters a new era of relations with wider Europe.
UK officials have insisted new border systems are “ready to go” amid concerns about possible delays at ports.
The trade deal agreed by the two sides on Christmas Eve, and passed by MPs on Wednesday, avoids the need for import taxes – tariffs – after the UK leaves the EU’s internal market and customs union today, BBC reports.
Taking to social media yesterday, Johnson tweeted his final video statement of the year summarising the events of 2020 and future prospects for UK’s trade negotiations.
He tweeted: There will be plenty who will be only too happy to say goodbye to the grimness of 2020. But this was also the year when we rediscovered a spirit of togetherness, of community. In 2021 we have our freedom in our hands and it is up to us to make the most of it. Happy New Year!”
There will be plenty who will be only too happy to say goodbye to the grimness of 2020.
But this was also the year when we rediscovered a spirit of togetherness, of community.
In 2021 we have our freedom in our hands and it is up to us to make the most of it. Happy New Year! pic.twitter.com/gDRXe2SuCb
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) December 31, 2020
After months of negotiations, the UK and European Union finally agreed a deal that will define their future relationship, which came into effect at 11pm on 31 December.
So what changes on 1 January?
In summary, the deal contains new rules for how the UK and EU will live, work and trade together.
The BBC outlines the following:
- While the UK was in the EU, companies could buy and sell goods across EU borders without paying taxes and there were no limits on the amount of things which could be traded.
- Under the terms of the deal, that won’t change on 1 January, but to be sure that neither side has an unfair advantage, both sides had to agree to some shared rules and standards on workers’ rights, as well as many social and environmental regulations.
- Freedom to work and live between the UK and the EU also comes to an end, and in 2021, UK nationals will need a visa if they want to stay in the EU more than 90 days in a 180-day period.
- Northern Ireland will continue to follow many of the EU’s rules in order to avoid a hardening of its border with the Republic of Ireland. This will mean however that new checks will be introduced on goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
- Now that it’s no longer in the EU, the UK is free to set its own trade policy and can negotiate deals with other countries. Talks are being held with the US, Australia and New Zealand – countries that currently don’t have free trade deals with the EU.