The United Kingdom (UK) has finally exited the European Union (EU) after 47 years of membership and more than 3 years after it voted to do so in a referendum in 2016. A transition period of 11 months until 31 December, 2020 has been provided in order to have a smooth transition. Most European Union laws will continue to be in force until that time, including free movement of people.
In a message of reassurance, the Prime Minister (PM), Boris Johnson an hour before the exit wrote on social media, “For many people this is an astonishing moment of hope, a moment they thought would never come. And there are many of course who feel a sense of anxiety and loss.
And then of course there is a third group - perhaps the biggest - who had started to worry that the whole political wrangle would never come to an end.
I understand all those feelings and our job as the government - my job - is to bring this country together now and take us forward.”
While this a historic moment for Europe, it is only the first stage of a long process. Many
European leaders are doubtful of UK being able to meet the deadline to get a permanent free trade agreement with the EU, similar to the one between EU and Canada.
Johnson said that "for all its strengths and for all its admirable qualities, the EU has evolved over 50 years in a direction that no longer suits this country.
The most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning," he said, and "a moment of real national renewal and change."
The departure of UK has been through a lot of hurdles with former PM Theresa May having to
step down as she was not able to get parliamentary support for the legislation needed to implement the deal. She had agreed with EU on how the UK would leave the bloc.
European Commission President, Ursula Von Der Leyen, said that Britain and Brussels will fight for their interests in trade talks. She paid tribute to UK citizens who made major contributions to the EU and ensured its strong association. She said that the UK’s final day in EU was “emotional”.
French President Emmanuel Macron called Brexit a “historic alarm signal” that should force the EU to rethink its ways and improve itself. “It’s a sad day, let’s not hide it,” he said in a televised address. “But it is a day that must also lead us to do things differently.”
Negotiations between Britain and the EU will begin from March. EU has said that Britain cannot have have full access to EU’s single market unless it followed the bloc’s rules, but Britain has insisted it will not agree to following an EU rule book in return for unfettered trade.
The exit marked the end of an era, whether good or bad - that will become clear in the times to come.
Author: Nandini Gandhi