Brexit: Commission prepares for the end of the transition period; concerns over citizens' rights

The European Commission has published a Communication setting out the changes that will take place when the Brexit "transition period" comes to an end on 1 January 2021, no matter what the outcome of negotiations between Britain and the EU. Citizens' rights groups are concerned that many EU member states do not yet have legislation in place to ensure British citizens with the right to stay can do so.

European Commission press release: Getting ready for the end of the transition period with the UK: European Commission adopts “readiness” Communication (EC, link):

"The European Commission has today adopted a Communication to help national authorities, businesses and citizens prepare for the inevitable changes that will arise at the end of the transition period. Changes will occur to cross-border exchanges between the EU and the UK as of 1 January 2021– irrespective of whether an agreement on a future partnership has been concluded or not.


Today's Communication “Getting ready for changes” sets out a sector-by-sector overview of the main areas where there will be changes regardless of the outcome of the ongoing EU-UK negotiations, and sets out measures that national authorities, businesses and citizens should take in order to be ready for these changes. It in no way seeks to prejudge the outcome of negotiations. As such, it does not examine the possible implications of a failure to reach an agreement, nor does it consider the need for contingency measures."

Full-text: Commission Communication: Getting ready for changes. Communication on readiness at the end of the transition period between the European Union and the United Kingdom (COM(2020) 324 final, pdf)

Meanwhile, UK citizens' rights groups are concerned that many member states do not have the legislation in place to ensure that British citizens already living in the EU can continue to live and work without facing problems. The Guardian reported at the end of June:

"As many as 23 EU member states have yet to implement systems to document the future rights of the estimated 1.2 million British citizens already living on the continent, who are in the dark over their future rights and obligations.

"Brussels has warned UK nationals to prepare for “thorough checks” at EU borders and the loss of rights such as free movement for pets and automatic recognition of driving licences, in a stark warning of Brexit’s ramifications.

On the same day that Michel Barnier, the EU’s Brexit negotiator, said “significant divergences” remained in Brussels’ future-relationship talks with Britain, the European Commission on Thursday issued a policy paper warning of “far reaching and automatic changes” regardless of the outcome of the negotiations.

The paper, published to help companies and citizens prepare for the end of Britain’s transition period on December 31, reflects Mr Barnier’s repeated warnings that the UK cannot “cherry pick” the benefits of the single market in a future trade deal.

Brussels also underlined that it would not mirror the UK’s intended policy of showing leniency when it comes to customs formalities in the months after the transition ends, telling businesses to prepare for a full suite of checks and “inevitable disruptions”.

Exactly what those "thorough checks" on people will entail is examined in a new Statewatch report, Automated suspicion, which is being published today.

Further coverage of the Communication: EU launches its own shock and awe campaign early (Yorkshire Bylines, link)


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