The Brexit deal – or EU withdrawal agreement – was agreed this week. It still has to be voted through by Parliament, which looks unlikely as I write this. But what’s in it?
The implementation period is the transition period agreed last December. It lasts until 31st December 2020.
Rights to live in the UK or EU after we leave the EU
- UK nationals living in an EU country: If you’re legally living in an EU country at the end of the transition period, will be able to stay. If you’re a UK national and you’ve been living in an EU country continuously for five years, you’ll have the right to get permanent residence in that country.
- Family members: Close family members, which means a husband, wife, civil partner, partner you’re not married to, your dependent children, your parents and your grandparents, can join you.
SAVVY TIP: A member of your family can only join you if the relationship/connection existed before December 31st 2020 and exists when they want to join you. The only exception is for children who are born after the end of the transition period. In that case they would be able to join you, if you have custody of them.
- EU nationals living in the UK: If you’re an EU national legally living in the UK at the end of the transition period, will be able to stay. If you’re an EU national and you’ve been living in the UK continuously for five years, you’ll have the right to get permanent residence here. If you’ve not lived in the UK or the EU country for five years by the end of the transition period, you’ll be able to stay until you’ve reached the five year threshold, and then apply for residence.
SAVVY TIP: If you’re an EU citizen living in the UK, you and your family can apply for residence under the EU Settlement Scheme. There’s information on the Gov.uk website of a pilot scheme that’s running until December 21st. There’s no information yet on the application process if you’re a UK national living in the EU.
WORTH KNOWING: If you’re a UK national living in an EU country at the moment, there’s nothing in this agreement that gives you the right to then move to another EU country after the end of December 2020. However, the agreement says this is something the UK is hoping to get agreement on, as part of its ‘future relationship’ with the EU.
UK payments to the EU
The UK will continue to make payments to the EU during the transition period. This was agreed last December, and isn’t new. It’s estimated at between £35 and £39 billion. The UK won’t have to pay this upfront – only as the money is spent by the EU. If the transition period extends beyond December 2020, the UK would have to continue to make payments. The UK will also get a payment from its share of any fines imposed by the EU before the end of December 2020.
Rights of workers and the self employed
The agreement says that people who are employed, and those who work for themselves will get ‘broadly’ the same rights they do today. This means they have the right not to be discriminated against because of their nationality and the right to equal treatment as people who are nationals of the country they live in. This applies to UK nationals living in the EU and EU nationals living in the UK. It covers the right to work and the right to things like housing and benefits.
SAVVY TIP: There’s a commitment by the UK not to water down employment rights after December 2020, that were granted as a result of EU membership.
Recognising professional qualifications
If you obtained your professional qualifications before the end of the transition period, these will be recognised by both the UK and EU. This applies to people from the UK living and working in the EU and vice versa.
Pensions and state benefits
At the moment, if you’re from the UK and you work elsewhere in the EU, you’re able to sign up for social security and healthcare cover in the country you’re living in. The same applies to people from the EU who come to the UK. The agreement says that this ‘co-ordination’ will continue to apply until the end of the transition period, in December 2020 – for those people who are living in the UK or an EU country lawfully.
SAVVY TIP: After December 2020, these rules won’t apply, but you will keep any entitlement you’ve already built up (for example, entitlement to a state pension). The amount of state pension you’re entitled to will depend on the rules of the country where you built up your state pension entitlement.
If you’re a UK national living in an EU country at the end of December 2020 (as set out in the first point), or you’re from the EU and you’re living in the UK, you’ll be able to use the healthcare of the country you’re living in.
You’ll be able to use your EHIC until the end of December 2020. This entitles you to access to medical care on the same basis as someone who lived in the EU country you’re visiting. The same applies to people from the EU on holiday here. Under the withdrawal agreement, if you’re on holiday or taking a course at the end of December 2020, you’ll be covered by your EHIC until the end of your holiday or course.
SAVVY TIP: If you’re visiting an EU country for planned medical treatment, you’ll be able to continue to receive that treatment if it continues beyond December 2020. The same applies to people from the EU visiting the UK.
Goods imported from the EU and vice versa
Anything that’s ‘placed on the market’ in the EU or UK before December 2020, will be able to be sold, exported and imported. I’m assuming that ‘placed on the market’ means being available to be sold here and in the EU. It won’t need any new labels etc. The agreement also sets out what happens if something is in the midst of being exported or imported when the transition period runs out (basically, it can carry on until it reaches its destination).
SAVVY TIP: This applies to goods, rather than things like live animals.
EU rules on how data is processed if it travels between EU countries apply to the UK during the transition period, up to December 2020. As part of its negotiations, the UK is trying to make sure that its own rules on data are recognised by the EU so data can continue to move freely between the UK and EU after December 2020. The aim is to have this in place by December 2020.
What does the UK and EU Brexit breakthrough deal mean?
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