Brexit Bulletin, 24 August 2020

Aug 24, 2020

Little progress has been reported following the seventh round of talks in Brussels on Friday last, with the EU warning of valuable time being lost, while the UK remains hopeful of agreement.  In other news, over two million EU citizens have been granted a right to stay in the UK permanently under the EU Settlement Scheme and we also report on a new digital system for UK exporters of animals.  

Little progress in EU/UK trade talks  

The seventh round of post-Brexit trade talks took place in Brussels last week and with time running out to reach agreement, little progress has been made on the headline issues after two days of debate.  

Disagreement over fisheries and a level playing field have already caused problems in moving the negotiations forward and no progress was made on either this time around.  In a statement following the negotiations, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said that further differences remain on law enforcement to protect citizens’ rights, migration and dispute settlement.  Progress was however reported on energy cooperation, anti-money laundering and participation in Union programmes. 

Concluding his statement, Mr Barnier said “at this stage, an agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union seems unlikely. I simply do not understand why we are wasting valuable time.” 

The UK’s chief negotiator David Frost was hopefully that agreement was still possible but that will not be easily achievable. Acknowledging that little progress had been made this week, Mr Frost said the reason was because  "The EU is still insisting not only that we must accept continuity with EU state aid and fisheries policy, but also that this must be agreed before any further substantive work can be done in any other area of the negotiation, including on legal texts.” 

The next round of talks is scheduled to take place in London in the week of 7 September. Having a trade deal in place by the end of the year is the target for both sides; this must be agreed by the EU Summit in mid-October to have any chance of ratification by the end of the year. For the UK, ratification is much more straightforward with only the Parliament in Westminster needing to approve the deal. On the EU side, a qualified majority (55 percent of Member States representing 65 percent of the European population) must support the agreement in the European Council, and it must also be supported by a majority vote in European Parliament.  

Two million EU citizens granted right to stay in UK 

Just over two million EU citizens living in the UK have been granted settled status, meaning they now have a right to live in the UK permanently after Brexit.  A further 1.48 million people who have been living in the UK for less than five years have been given pre-settled status. After five years of residency, these people can apply for permanent residency in the UK. Both statuses allow people to work, study, access healthcare and other benefits.  

Of the total applications received 4,600 were refused, 36,500 were withdrawn and 34,900 were deemed invalid. 

EU citizens have until 30 June 2021 to apply for the settlement scheme. However, those who are granted settled or pre-settled status are not issued a physical document to prove their status; rather a confirmation letter is emailed to successful applicants.  

You can read more about the EU Settlement Scheme statistics on gov.uk

New digital service for Export Health Certificates  

From last Friday (21 August), UK exporters of animals and animal products will need to apply online for existing Export Health Certificates (EHC) rather than emailing a PDF form to the Animal and Plant Health Agency.  Traders must first register in order to use the online application system. 

An EHC confirms, among other things, that health standards and regulations have been met so animals and animal products can be exported.  Businesses can check if the EHC needed is available digitally on the Find an export health certificate page.  

Read more on the new digital service and how to register.  

For all Brexit updates, visit our Brexit webpage.