After giving Ross and Rachael a run for their money, UK and EU have finally called it quits. Terms of estrangement were finalized via a tedious process. The House of Commons and the House of Lords have passed the The European Union (Future Relationship) Bill.

As of 11 PM GMT, UK stopped following EU rules as a new set of provisions related to travel, trade, immigration and other relevant aspects of the relationship between the two came into force.

The Brexit referendum had taken place in 2016, but terms of ‘conscious uncoupling’ took a long time to get finalized. Though UK officially left the economic and political block on January 31, 2020, many matters related to trade remained unresolved and negotiations dragged on for 11 months.

Here are a few key changes that kick in starting January 1, 2021:

  • UK nationals can only travel without a Visa to Schengen are countries for 90 days in any 180-day period.
  • UK nationals living in EU countries might have to renew their residence permits based on their resident country’s laws.
  • UK nationals planning to move to EU in 2021 no longer have the automatic right to live or work there.
  • There will be no automatic recognition of professional qualifications.
  • There will be a new points-based system for foreign citizens (except Irish nationals) wanting to move to EU. EU and non-EU immigrants will be treated at par.
  • While there will be no taxes or limits to quantity of goods traded between UK and EU starting January 1, 2021, some special rules have been put into place with respect to animal-based foods and livestock
  • UK will no longer have any role in the European Court of Justice
  • Northern Ireland will have special provisions applicable to it and people holding Irish passports can continue to live, work and study freely in the EU without a visa and with no time limit
  • There will be no border checks at the border between Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland

More details may be found here.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the House of Commons on the subject and said that the bill “embodies our vision shared with our European neighbors of a new relationship between Britain and the EU as sovereign equals joined by friendship, commerce, history, interests and values while respecting one another’s freedom of action.

The entire speech may be viewed here:

Brexit has always been controversial, and its finalization has also attracted varying degrees of opposition and criticism from various quarters, especially Ireland and Scotland, and liberal politicians in the UK:

“For me it’s not something to celebrate, but we have an agreed basis for future relations & will now focus on building a strong new relationship with our closest neighbour,” said Simon Coveney who heads the ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs in the Irish Government.

“It is not half a century of EU membership that has made us European; it is centuries of engagement,” said Scottish Cabinet Secretary Michael Russell.

Though many in Britain’s conservative circles were thrilled that Brexit was finalized despite delays and hurdles:

* Feature Image by Christoph Scholz via Wikimedia Commons.