Updated: 19th February 2020
Brexit day has been and gone but we’ve only taken the first step in our estrangement from the European Union. Complex negotiations for a new trade deal with Europe commence straight away, and with just 11 months until the transition period ends, what happens now?
What changes can we expect to see in the coming year and beyond – essentially, what are the Brexit next steps?
Trade talks during transition
Because the Brexit deadline was extended to the end of January 2020, the official transition period lasts only 11 months and ends on 31st December 2020. The Prime Minister has declared his intention not to extend this period, and stated that negotiators will be able to agree and ratify a trade deal with the EU in this timescale. Should his plan falter, the government can extend this transition period by one or two years, but must do so by 30th June 2020.
The possibility of ‘no deal’ remains
If the transition period isn’t extended and the government and EU negotiators can’t agree a deal by 31st December 2020, the default position is that we leave the transition period without an agreement on trade. World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms would then apply.
This isn’t the same as the ‘no deal’ scenario of March and October 2019, however, as the Withdrawal Agreement still protects the rights of citizens, but it would affect trade and security.
No voting rights or representation in EU parliament
During the transition period the UK remains in the customs union and single market, but has no representation in the European parliament. Essentially, we have no voting rights on matters pertaining to the EU or ourselves, but where matters directly relate to the UK we can participate in policy meetings – when discussing fisheries, for example.
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)
The UK left the Common Agricultural Policy on Brexit day and has introduced new legislation to support farmers under the Agriculture Bill. This doesn’t take effect until 2021, but the government has provided almost £3 billion until the new Bill comes into being. This funding covers the 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.