On January 31st at 11pm GMT, the UK will officially leave the European Union. The divorce is final (though alimony discussions are not!) and the only way to undo this historical decision would be to reapply for EU member status, which though at the moment seems highly unlikely (and likely to be met with a stream of continental expletives) could be a possible future scenario when Generation Xers and Milleniums,who grew up with a European identity, take over the country.
With typical British understatement and aplomb, no wild celebrations are planned for Jan, 31st–perhaps die-hard leavers are refraining from gloating so as not to overly antagonize desolate remainers. Although Big Ben will not chime out the old era and in the new, a count-down clock has been scheduled to shine on number 10 Downing street to mark the passing. The most significant action being taken to mark the historical date is the coining of a 50-p coin dated 31 January 2020. The comforting words inscribed on the coin read “peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations.”
However, although the UK will officially be out of the EU at the stroke of midnight CET, it seems that nothing will essentially change for the next eleven months. During this transition period scheduled to last until the end of December 2020, Britain will still have to obey EU rules while having no say in them. This period is deemed necessary in order to have time to negotiate a new working relationship. Under the withdrawal agreement, this time period could be extended to 2022 or even 2023. Despite the fact that PM Boris Johnson opposes any such extension, some observers believe it may, indeed, take years to reach a full agreement.
In the meanwhile, at least until January 2021, British citizens can continue to live, work and study in EU member states and EU citizens will enjoy the same rights. And it also seems that a passport won’t be needed to travel from the EU to the UK as of yet: an EU Identity Card will suffice until the end of the transition period. After that, well, we’ll see.
In any case, EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens will have to apply for settled status by June 30, 2021. Vademecum will post details on how to and who must do so in the near future.
So, adding our Italian voices to the English and French ones singing Auld Lang Syne, we at Vademecum say arrivederci to our British friends and hope the UK-EU divorce will be a friendly one.