Brexit: What does it mean for Brandenburg?
While the UK voted in 2016 to leave the European Union, it was not until the 31. December of 2020 until it effectively did so. After several years of negotiating and a transition period, London and Brussels only agreed at the last minute on a comprehensive Brexit deal. The more than 1000 pages long agreement defines the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU. It constitutes close economic ties between both sides, in principle eliminating all taxes and quotas for goods trading between the UK and the EU. The agreement also secures, in principle, compliance of British regulation with competition laws within the EU. Nevertheless, even given this detailed arrangement, Brexit will change some crucial issues related to trade, the free movement of people, research collaboration and the exchange of students.
Within the last years, the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union (TFEU) has been crucial for securing economic prosperity within the European Union, as it guarantees the free movement of goods and services, and thereby the elimination of trade barriers. Steel produced in Brandenburg can be shipped to Spain or Italy, where it then can be used for construction purposes or further processing. And this all without border controls, paperwork or taxation issues. Great Britain breaks with this tradition and Brexit implies some far-reaching consequences for all Brandenburg based companies, especially for companies such as Rolls-Royce-Deutschland or Riva Steel. While the deal negotiated establishes a tariff and quota free trade zone for goods, companies have to deal with custom requirements, as both sides, the EU and Great Britain, have established border controls. Mainly this means more bureaucracy for traders, as they have to apply for Economic Operators Registration and Identification numbers, as well as to fill out a bunch of documents.
Within the European Union all citizens of the Member States have the right to life and work in another EU country, and to move freely between countries without administrative issues like visas. As the UK has now officially left the block, this freedom does no longer apply for Europeans. Those who were granted a permission of permanent residence, have to ask the British government for the right to continue living in Britain by either applying for the European Settlement Scheme or for a British Citizenship. Short term visits to the UK, for example tourism or business trips, are still possible for EU citizens without the application for UK Visa. The same applies to exchange students, if their stay lasts less than 6 months. For any other activity, be it work or studies, citizens of the European Union have to apply for a UK Visa. During the last years, the European Union has distributed a lot of resources in the development of mobility projects such as Erasmus+. Brexit means, that Great Britain won’t participate in this scheme anymore. This means that students from Brandenburg can no longer use Erasmus to study in the UK and UK students can no longer use Erasmus to come study in Brandenburg. In contrast to this, the UK’s participation in projects funded under Horizon 2020 will continue, even as the transition period has ended. Participants will receive funds until the individual projects end and even can apply to funds after December 31. The UK will also be part of Horizon Europe, but as an Associate Country and under conditions that still need to be finalized.
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