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The draft EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement
On 24 December 2020, the European Union and the United Kingdom reached an agreement in principle on the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
The entry into application of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement is a matter of special urgency.
The United Kingdom, as a former Member State, has extensive links with the Union in a wide range of economic and other areas. If there is no applicable framework regulating the relations between the Union and the United Kingdom after 31 December 2020, those relations will be significantly disrupted, to the detriment of individuals, businesses and other stakeholders.
The negotiations could only be finalised at a very late stage before the expiry of the transition period. Such late timing should not jeopardise the European Parliament's right of democratic scrutiny, in accordance with the Treaties.
In light of these exceptional circumstances, the Commission proposes to apply the Agreement on a provisional basis, for a limited period of time until 28 February 2021.
The Council, acting by the unanimity of all 27 Member States, will then need to adopt a decision authorising the signature of the Agreement and its provisional application as of 1 January 2021. Once this process is concluded, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and the UK can be formally signed.
The European Parliament will then be asked to give its consent to the Agreement.
As a last step on the EU side, the Council must adopt the decision on the conclusion of the Agreement.
What is Brexit?
Decision of the United Kingdom to exit the European Union
On 23 June 2016 the UK citizens voted to leave the European Union. The vote followed intense negotiations of a deal which would strengthen Britain's special status in the EU.
On 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom notified the European Council of its intention to leave the European Union, in accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. This triggered the start of a two-year negotiation, also known as the Article 50 process. The objective of the negotiations was to agree the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU in an orderly manner.
The Withdrawal Agreement established the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU. It ensures that the withdrawal happens in an orderly manner and offers legal certainty once the Treaties and EU law cease to apply to the UK. The Withdrawal Agreement covers all elements of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU including citizens’ rights, the financial settlement, a Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, a transition period (1/2/2020-31/12/2020), Protocols on Gibraltar and Cyprus, as well as a range of other separation issues.
The negotiations primarily addressed three main pillars of withdrawal issues:
guaranteeing citizens’ rights (EU citizens currently living in the UK and UK citizens currently living in the EU);
settling the UK’s financial commitments;
Ireland and Northern Ireland specific issues.
On 14 November 2018, the European Commission and United Kingdom reached an agreement at the negotiators’ level on the entirety of the Withdrawal Agreement and on an outline of the Political Declaration on the future EU-UK relationship. On 25 November 2018, the European Council endorsed the Withdrawal Agreement and approved the Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship.
At the European Council (Art. 50) on 21 March, the EU27 leaders offered a Brexit extension until 22 May 2019. It would be granted if the UK Parliament approved the Withdrawal Agreement by the following week. If it did not, the EU leaders agreed to delay Brexit until 12 April 2019, expecting the UK to "indicate a way forward before this date".
At the special summit on 10 April EU leaders agreed an extension of Article 50 until the end of October 2019. If the withdrawal agreement would be ratified by both sides earlier, the UK would leave on the first day of the following month, leaders said. The decision was taken in agreement with the UK.
On 17 October 2019, the European Council, in an EU 27 format, endorsed the revised text of the Withdrawal Agreement and approved the revised Political Declaration on the future relationship between the EU and the UK, that were agreed on 17 October 2019 at the level of EU and UK negotiators. This deal would allow an orderly departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
On 29 October 2019, the European Council adopted a decision to grand an extension until 31 January 2020 in order to allow more time for the Withdrawal Agreement to be ratified. The decision was taken unanimously by the European Council by written procedure, with the agreement of the UK.
The British Parliament and the European Parliament ratified the revised Withdrawal Agreement prior to the deadline of the 31st January 2020, thus the UK left the EU on the 1st of February 2020 as foreseen by the Agreement. This was followed by a transition period, which will last until 31 December 2020. During this period, the UK remains part of the Customs Union and the single market, therefore, all EU rules and regulations will continue to apply to the UK. Virtually nothing will change for businesses or for citizens.
The Withdrawal Agreement entered into force on 1 February 2020, after having been agreed on 17 October 2019, together with the Political Declaration setting the framework of the future EU-UK partnership. The Withdrawal Agreement is legally binding for the two signatory sides in its entirety, including its 3 Protocols. Its application is not dependent to the result of the negotiations between the EU and the UK on an Agreement on their Future Relationship.
The EU attaches great importance to the M-S preparedness for the changes that will inevitably happen after the end of the transition period, as of the 1/1/2021. These changes will happen because of the UK’s withdrawal from the Customs Union and the common EU market. Therefore, the EU Commission has issued a large series of Notices on Preparedness, which guide and coordinate M-S’s measures/actions with regards to a vast number of issues, in view of the aforementioned changes.
At the same time, because of the uncertainty vis-à-vis the negotiations for the Future Relationship between the EU and the UK, the EU Commission started issuing as of 10 December 2020, a set of targeted contingency measures ensuring basic reciprocal air and road connectivity between the EU and the UK, as well as allowing for the possibility of reciprocal fishing access by EU and UK vessels to each other's waters. The aim of these contingency measures is to cater for the period during which there is no agreement in place. If no agreement enters into application, they will end after a fixed period. While a “no-deal” scenario will cause disruptions in many areas, some sectors would be disproportionately affected due to a lack of appropriate fall-back solutions and because in some sectors, stakeholders cannot themselves take mitigating measures.
RESIDENCE RIGHTS AND RESIDENCE DOCUMENTS IN THE REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS
Under the Withdrawal Agreement, UK nationals who are eligible for residence rights as well as their family members, including family members that are third country nationals, can continue to live, work or study in Cyprus.
Further to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on 31/1/2020, the Withdrawal Agreement has a provision for a transitional period, which will be enforced from 1/2/2020 until 31/12/2020. During the transitional period, current EU Law on Free movement will continue to apply and the residence rights of UK nationals and their family members will continue to be subject to the same conditions as those under the EU Law on free movement. UK nationals covered by the Withdrawal Agreement will have the right to take up employment or to carry out economic activity as a self-employed person. They will keep all their workers’ rights based on EU law.
Residence documents issued under the directive 2004/38/EC will continue to be valid throughout the transitional period, and these documents may voluntarily be replaced with the new residence document to be issued in the future. The same conditions are valid for the submission of residency applications will continue to apply during the transitional period under EU Law. Under the Withdrawal Agreement, applications under a new system will be accepted starting as of the 1/1/2021, onwards.
In reference to Article 18(4) of the Withdrawal Agreement, Cyprus has decided that UK nationals and their family members and other persons residing in its territory will not be obligated to apply to replace their pre-existing residency documents in order to obtain any new residence documents that will be issued in the future.
Those UK nationals and their family members who have residence rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, but haven“t applied for residence documents by the end of the transitional period, i.e. 31/12/2020, will continue to have the right to apply within a new procedure that will be initiated as of 1/1/2021; provided they can submit documentary evidence of their residency prior to the end of the transitional period. Residence documents issued within this new process will include a statement that the document has been issued in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement.
For those UK nationals who will be in scope, and can provide documentary evidence of their residency in Cyprus prior to the end of the transitional period, there will be no deadline for the submission of residency applications within the new process that will be initiated from 1/1/2021.
Further information about the aforementioned new application procedure will be announced during the transitional period.
The Government of the Republic of Cyprus greatly appreciates that UK citizens have been undoubtedly contributing to Cypriot society. Taking this valued contribution into consideration, and in addition to the fact that these UK citizens have been residing in Cyprus in their capacity as EU citizens, the Government’s clear priority is to ensure that the rights of UK citizens are safeguarded.
The Government protects the residence rights of United Kingdom nationals and their family members, including family members who are third country nationals, by implementing all the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement on Citizens Rights. UK nationals and their family members, who will exercise their right to free movement and enter Cyprus with the intention to reside before the withdrawal date and/or until the end of the transitional period, will continue to retain the same rights of residence as those under the current EU rules on free movement. In doing so, the Government aims to protect UK citizens and their family members who have already established their life in Cyprus at the time of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, under the Withdrawal Agreement
Residency Documents for British Citizens in Cyprus
How it works for UK nationals: a. UK nationals and their family members including family members who are non-UK nationals, who have already exercised or will exercise free movement in Cyprus before 1 January 2021 but, until 31 December 2020 will not have completed continuous residence of five years, will be eligible for a temporary residence, b. Those who will have completed five years of continuous residence in Cyprus before 31 December 2020, will be eligible to acquire permanent residence, c. Those who will not have completed five years of continuous residence in Cyprus, will be able to remain in Cyprus to build-up five years continuous residence. Commencement of this five-year period for both cases starts at the moment of exercising free movement rights, which may be at any time before and during the transitional period. d. UK citizens who want to visit Cyprus after the 31 December 2020, end of the transitional period and whose rights do not fall within the scope of the Withdrawal Agreement, will need to meet Cyprus immigration rules. How it works for UK nationals’ family members: a. Existing family members of UK nationals covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, who are living in a country other than Cyprus on 31 December 2020 (end of the transition period), will be able to reunite in Cyprus with the UK national as a family member at any time in the future. They will then be eligible to qualify for permanent residence, after completing five years of continuous residence. b. Children born or adopted after the transition period by UK nationals or their spouse/civil union partner, who are within the scope of the Withdrawal Agreement, will enjoy the same rights as pre-existing family members. c. Future spouses and partners of UK citizens who are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement and wish to come to Cyprus after the 31 December 2020 (end of the transition period), will need to meet Cyprus immigration rules. Residence documents: Holders of current Residence Documents issued under the Directive 2004/38/EC (MEU1, MEU2, MEU3 ) will be able to continue to use them as means of proof for residence rights in Cyprus. Applications received up until the end of the transition period will be examined on the basis of the current free movement rules, and, if approved, will result in the issuance of the current residence documents. In reference to Article 18(4) of the Withdrawal Agreement, Cyprus has decided that UK nationals and their family members will not be obligated to replace their pre-existing residence documents (MEU1, MEU2, MEU3 ) in order to obtain the new residence document which will be issued as of 1.1.2021.
After the end of the transitional period, eligible persons whose residency rights are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, who have not applied for residence documents by the end of the transition period, will continue to have the right to apply for residence documents, provided they can submit documentary evidence of their residency prior to the end of the transitional period. Residence documents issued to eligible persons after the end of the transition period will include a statement that the document has been issued in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement.
JUSTICE Update for Cyprus After Brexit
European Arrest Warrants
According to the Wthdrawal Agreement the EAW issued by Cyprus authorities which will have been received by UK authorities until 31/12/2020 will be executed on this legal basis. As from 1/1/2021, in case no Agreement on the EU-UK Future Partnership is reached, extradition requests will be sent under the Council of Europe Convention on Extradition.
Transfer of convicts
Requests for transfer of convicts which are pending before UK authorities or will have been received by UK authorities until 31/12/2020, will be handled under F/D 2008/909/JHA for recognition and enforcement of conviction. As from 1/1/2021, in case no Agreement on the EU-UK Future Partnership is reached, the Council of Europe Convention on Transfer will be used as the legal basis.
Mutual Legal Assistance Requests
MLA requests which have been sent to UK authorities either under the EU MLA Convention, or as European Investigation Orders under Directive 2014/41/EU, and all EI0 which will have been received by UK authorities until 31/12/20 will be executed on that legal basis. New requests for mutual assistance as from 1/1/2021, in case no EU-UK Future Partnership Agreement is reached, will be made under the corresponding Council of Europe Convention on Mutual Assistance.
Service of documents
Requests for service of documents under Service Regulation 1393/2017, which will have been received by the UK authorities until 31/12/2020, will be executed on that legal basis. New requests as from 1/1/2021 will be made under the corresponding Hague Convention on Service.
Taking of Evidence
Requests for taking of evidence under Regulation 1206/2001, which will have been received by the UK authorities until 31/12/2020, will be executed on that legal basis. New requests as from 1/1/2021 will be made under the corresponding Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence.
Lawyers, citizens of a member state of EU with a UK home professional title, will continue to have the rights deriving from Directives 77/249/EEC and 98/05/EC on the effective exercise of freedom to provide services and on facilitating practice of the profession on a permanent basis in another M-S, respectively, only until 31/12/2020, as from which date they will not be able to register — they will be struck off the relevant registers.
Exempt are those lawyers with a UK home professional title, who until 31/12/2020 will have been approved for full admission to the profession, according to the Advocates Law.
Relevant Law: the Advocates (Amendment) Law, no. 6(I)/2020.
HEALTHCARE in Cyprus for British Citizens After Brexit
The United Kingdom has left the European Union on the 1st of February 2020 and we are going through a transitional period that will last, until the 31st of December 2020. During the transitional period the existing situation for citizens will be maintained and EU Law (Community Acquis) between EU Member States and the United Kingdom will continue to apply, thereby maintaining the existing situation with regard to the implementation of European Regulations 883/04 and 987/09 on the Coordination of Social Security Systems.
In line with the above development, all procedures of the Ministry of Health which are based on the above Regulations, including the provision of health care services to holders of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) issued by the United Kingdom, will continue without any changes, at least until the 31st of December 2020.
The same will be the case with the holders of Cyprus EHIC card and other European forms (S1, S2, E121, E106, E109, EPA, etc.) in the United Kingdom