The United Kingdom will leave the European Union on 31st January 2020. Here is the Brexit calendar and the consequences for travelers.
31st January 2020: The United Kingdom leaves the European Union
The countdown to Brexit has started! As Boris Johnson's Conservative Party won a large victory in the early elections on 12th December, winning 365 out of 650 seats in the House of Commons, the British Prime Minister can now carry out his promise of delivering Brexit on 31st January 2020.
In specific terms, the United Kingdom should, therefore, leave the European Union on 31st January, at 11 p.m. GMT, a little more than 3 years after the June 2016 referendum. By then, the British Parliament will have to have voted on the Brexit agreement. The same goes for the European Parliament. This time, the votes should only be a formality.
31st December 2020: End of the transition period
However, the date of January 31st, 2020 will not mark a sudden break. If the United Kingdom is no longer a member of the European Union by this date, a transition period will be open until 31st December 2020.
In practice, the United Kingdom will no longer participate in European institutions, but it will still apply all of the European regulations, in particular with regard to the movement of people.
Therefore, as of 31st January 2020, there will be no changes for European travelers, who will be able to continue to travel to the United Kingdom with their valid passport or identity card. For those travelling to Great Britain with their car, driving licenses issued by EU member states will also still be valid in the UK.
1st January 2021: Implementation of the new agreement
The transitional period should allow negotiations to take place with a view of signing a new agreement which will define the new relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom. This agreement must notably cover the aspect of trade but also the question of the movement of people. Therefore, European and British negotiators have 11 months to draw up the outlines of the new relationship.
If an agreement is reached by 31st December 2020, it will come into force on 1st January 2021. If no agreement is reached, the UK will then leave the EU without an agreement.
In both cases, travelers and tourism professionals can be reassured: the official website of the British government specifies that there will be no changes for European citizens who wish to go to the United Kingdom for a short stay or for business. "EU citizens will still be able to cross the UK border with a valid passport or identity card," writes the British government. No visa will be imposed. On the other hand, changes are expected for European citizens living in the United Kingdom.
It remains to be seen whether or not the date of 31st December 2020 will be postponed. Given the work to be done, and the fact that the new agreement will have to be ratified by the British parliament, the European parliament and all the parliaments of the EU member states, the deadline seems particularly short. Especially since negotiations on trade alone could require several years of talks.