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What is Brexit?

What is the Trade and Cooperation Agreement?

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement is a long and complex text with content that can be divided into four main sections: the first on free trade, eliminating quotas and customs duties between the UK and the EU, establishing a title on the Level Playing Field - conditions for fair competition - one of the greatest demands of the EU during the negotiations. The second section establishes a framework for economic, social, environmental and fishing cooperation, which contains provisions aimed at ensuring energy connectivity and on transport, together with coordination in areas related to social security. The third section regulates an association on internal security based on such existing mechanisms as Europol and Eurojust and including provisions on the handover of detainees, the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Lastly, a fourth section establishes a common governance framework based on an institutional framework that has an "Association Council", co-chaired by a member of the European Commission and by a representative of the British Government at a ministerial level, who will supervise the application of the Agreement and will be assisted by Specialised Committees and Working Groups.

What is the Withdrawal Agreement?

The Withdrawal Agreement established the conditions for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union and from the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM). Its text was originally agreed by negotiators on 14 November 2018 and endorsed by the European Council (Article 50) on 25 November 2018. After a change in the British Government, the negotiators of the two parties revised the text of the Withdrawal Agreement, particularly in relation to the Protocol on the Republic of Ireland/Northern Ireland. The negotiators reached a new agreement on 17 October 2019. That same day, the European Council (Article 50) ratified the new text. On 24 January 2020, the European Union and the United Kingdom signed the Withdrawal Agreement. Following the favourable vote of the European Parliament on 29 January 2020, and the decision of the European Council on the conclusion of the Withdrawal Agreement on 30 January 2020, the Withdrawal Agreement entered into force on 1 February 2020.

What was the Transition Period?

The Transition Period was a direct consequence of the Withdrawal Agreement, which provided for a transition period until 31 December 2020, in which the acquis communautaire of the EU would continue to apply to relations between the EU and the UK. This period could be extended on a one time only basis, for a period of one or two years, but this would have had to be decided on by mutual agreement between the EU and the UK prior to 1 July 2020. However, the UK rejected this possibility before the deadline.

During the Transition Period, the EU Law continued to apply in the UK. The EU maintained its relations with the UK as if it were a Member State, with the exception of its participation in EU institutions and in governing structures.

Furthermore, during the Transition Period, the Agreement was agreed on to govern relations between the two parties as from 1 January 2021.


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