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Nearly four years after the British public first voted for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union in 2016, Brexit is set to finally take place on January 31. The country’s exit from the EU encountered several delays before last year’s changes in government helped to establish a clear timeline. After prominent Brexit proponent Boris Johnson became the U.K. Prime Minister last July and his Conservative Party took over more seats in last month’s national elections, Brexit supporters ultimately gained enough power to finalize the date of departure.
Even though a date for Brexit’s departure from the EU has been established, there remain many logistical hurdles with which officials will need to contend. These challenges could have impacts felt far outside the U.K. and even the EU. Here’s an update on all things Brexit – including some things that could affect you.
Citizens rights’ will remain unchanged – for now
Although Brexit is scheduled for January 31, most U.K. citizens’ rights in regards to the EU will temporarily remain the same as they were before Brexit. This transition period will last through the end of this year, and it might be extended to last longer.
Despite this lack of change in citizens’ rights, Brexit will immediately result in U.K. passports no longer qualifying their holders as EU citizens. Nevertheless, during the transition period, U.K. citizens will not require visas or extra travel documents to enjoy the same intra-Europe travel privileges they long have. It remains to be seen how, after the transition period ends, documentation needs for traveling between the U.K. and other European countries will change.
International travel changes remain unclear
Although the future of flights to the U.K. from within Europe remains unclear, documentation needs for flights to the U.K. from other countries – including the U.S. – appear likely to stay the same after January 31. As of late 2018, the U.K. and U.S. had established an “open skies” flight arrangement to begin after Brexit.
Brexit is getting costly
Although Brexit was publicly approved less than four years ago, the potential economic costs lost to it are projected to dwarf the amount of money that the U.K. has contributed to the EU budget over the past 47 years. By the end of 2020, the U.K. is on track to have lost £200 billion in economic growth to the changes that accompany Brexit. This correlates to a three percent decrease in the size of the U.K. economy due to Brexit.
Deportation is not an immediate concern
Once the U.K. leaves the EU, then in theory, any EU citizens living in the EU would no longer be legally allowed to reside there. This discrepancy could result in mass deportations, but the U.K. insists that it will not immediately pursue this option. According to European Parliament Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt, the U.K. will not automatically deport EU nationals who haven’t yet applied to remain in the U.K. post-Brexit. These nationals have until June 2021 to apply – and, as with much of Brexit, what happens after that remains unclear.