And at the last minute, the UK and EU finally settled on an agreement. Both sides have made concessions, and there are some areas which require more clarification. But broadly, these are the important points for businesses:
Level Playing Field
This is one of the most important elements of the agreement for international businesses. Within this were debates on things like ‘reasonable levels of state aid’ or ‘government subsidies for business’ - designed to ensure that businesses in the same market do not gain unfair advantages.
Now, both the UK and the EU will maintain common standards (important: not identical standards) on workers’ rights, plus many social/environmental regulations. The UK will also establish an independent competition agency to enforce these common standards, as the EU’s version will not have jurisdiction.
Most trips for UK nationals to the EU will not be much different to before. You will only need a visa if you want to stay for more than 90 days in a 180-day period, and your EHIC card will remain valid until it expires. Both sides agreed to cooperate on international mobile roaming, and UK driving licenses will still be recognised. Further details on EHICs and UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) can be found on GOV.UK
This one is still ongoing. Both sides want data to flow smoothly across borders, but the agreement stresses the right of the individual to protection of personal data and privacy. The UK is waiting on the EU to formally recognise that our data rules are an acceptable standard. For now, data will continue under the same processes as it is now for another four months, extendable by another two, whilst officials agree the fine print.
European Court of Justice
There will be no more direct jurisdiction for the ECJ in the UK, except in Northern Ireland. As the country will remain subject to EU single market and customs union rules, the European Court will remain the highest legal authority here. Elsewhere, the UK has independent governance.
Delays at border crossings was a chief concern for UK trade bodies. At the moment, it looks like goods may need to be checked twice to get certified for sale in both the UK and EU, and as yet there is no agreement on sanitary and safety standards for animal products.
UK qualifications will not be automatically recognised by the EU. This will make it harder for people to work across countries, because they may need to apply to each individual country to get their credentials accepted.
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