From 1. February 2020, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is no longer a member state of the European Union. After 47 years of membership and almost three years after the formal request for withdrawal, the United Kingdom will leave the EU on 31. January 2020.
At the same time, the withdrawal agreement ratified by the United Kingdom and the EU will enter into force for eleven months. The withdrawal agreement does not change much for the time being. For the most part, the United Kingdom will continue to be treated as a member state without being allowed to co-govern in Brussels. The more than three million EU citizens in the UK and one million Britons in the EU will be able to continue to live as before. This applies to the right of residence, employment and family reunification.
Nothing will change in terms of travel to the United Kingdom until 31. December 2020 either. A valid identity card or passport will still be sufficient for entry into the UK. There have already been border controls in the past because the United Kingdom is not part of the Schengen area. Germans are still covered by their health insurance when travelling to the UK until the end of the year and their driving licence is still valid.
The agreement can be extended once for two years until 31. December 2022. The EU and the United Kingdom must agree on this by 30. June 2020 at the latest. However, the British House of Commons has already ruled out the possibility of a two-year extension with the implementation act for the withdrawal agreement. An extension is therefore currently regarded as unlikely.
EU relations with the United Kingdom after 31. December 2020
From the beginning of March, the EU Commission and the British government will start negotiations on future cooperation. The basis for the negotiations is the political declaration agreed in the withdrawal agreement, which sets out the framework for future relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom. If the withdrawal agreement will not be extended, the ratification processes for the agreements on future relations must begin as early as the end of October 2020. That leaves only eight months of negotiations. The phase between July and December 2020 falls under the German EU Council Presidency.
It is very likely that a free trade agreement will be sought as well as an agreement on fair competitive conditions, especially in the areas of social, environmental and tax standards (the so-called Level-Playing-Field). Ultimately, however, the negotiations are unprecedented and it remains to be seen what the EU Commission and the UK can agree on in the short time available.