The UK has left the European Union, but the Brexit saga still has a long way to run.
A series of crucial issues need to be resolved with Brussels in the coming months.
What happens now?
The UK and European Union need to reach agreements by the end of the year to prevent what is effectively another no-deal scenario.
Is that likely?
The kind of partnership envisaged in the Political Declaration goes far beyond a traditional trade deal, promising an “ambitious, broad, deep and flexible partnership” including law enforcement and criminal justice, foreign policy, security and defence.
British citizens’ ability to work and travel across the EU, as well as healthcare access, from 2021 will all be on the table in the negotiations – with the same being true for EU citizens in the UK.
Trade deals alone usually take years to negotiate and are mostly aimed at bringing the two sides closer together rather than, as is the case with Brexit, allowing one party to drift away from the other.
German chancellor Angela Merkel said “these negotiations will certainly not be easy” adding that the EU would be “representing its own interests, and Britain will do the same”.
So why has the deadline been imposed?
The declaration commits both the UK and EU to begin negotiations as soon as possible so that new arrangements can come into force by the end of 2020.
The Withdrawal Agreement allows for an extension of up to two years, if agreed before 1 July but Boris Johnson has enshrined in law a promise not to seek a delay.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has said that without an extension “you cannot expect to agree on every single aspect of our new partnership” by the deadline.
What might a trade deal look like?
The aim is for a deal with no tariffs and no quotas on goods crossing between the UK and EU.
But that does not mean friction-free trade, as the further the UK wants to diverge from EU regulations the harder it will be to maintain access to the single market.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove acknowledged there “will be some regulations that will differ in Britain” so “that may mean that when it comes to trading with Europe there are some bureaucratic processes there that aren’t there now”.
Von der Leyen has said that “with every decision comes a trade-off ” and “the more divergence there is, the more distant the partnership has to be”.
What about fisheries policy?
The government has introduced legislation which it says ensures the UK will become an independent coastal state, quitting Europe’s common fisheries policy and ending automatic access for EU vessels to fish in British waters.
But with future access and quotas set to be negotiated with the EU, there are concerns in the fishing industry that it could lose out if it is traded off in return for securing a beneficial outcome for other areas of the economy such as financial services.
The Political Declaration targets a UK-EU deal on fisheries by 1 July.
When will talks begin?
Downing Street has said the UK government is ready for talks to begin as soon as possible.
But the EU needs to get its negotiating objectives endorsed by all 27 members, meaning it may be March before talks formally begin – further squeezing the tight timetable.
Who will be involved?
The Department for Exiting the European Union has been scrapped now Brexit has happened, so a new taskforce will lead the negotiations for the UK.
It will be led by Johnson’s chief Europe adviser David Frost.
For Brussels, the negotiations will be led by the familiar figure of Michel Barnier, who led the talks for the EU during the first phase of the Brexit process.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?