On 29 March 2017, the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland began the process of leaving the European Union. Following this, the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union was negotiated. If the United Kingdom adopts the Withdrawal Agreement, the 21-month transitional period will take effect. If the Withdrawal Agreement is not adopted, the 21-month transition period will not take effect, which means that on 1 November 2019, there would be no transition period and EU laws would stop applying to the UK immediately.
The negotiation on the future relationship between the EU and the UK can only begin after the withdrawal, regardless of which of the two scenarios takes place.
AREAS OF PREPARATION FOR BREXIT
The status of UK citizens in Slovenia
The Act regulating certain issues in the event of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union without agreement that was adopted for the case of UK’s withdrawal without agreement and will start to apply from the day of UK’s withdrawal sets out conditions for further residence of the following categories of UK citizens and their family members who are not EU nationals:
- UK citizens and their family members who will on the day of the UK’s withdrawal have a valid (permanent) registration certificate for EU citizen, or the (permanent) residence permit for family member of EU citizen, will have to exchange this certificate/permit for biometric temporary or permanent residence permit. They have to do this in one year since the withdrawal or before the expiry of the validity of the certificate/permit if this period is shorter than one year. The temporary residence permit in this case will be issued for the period until the expiry of the (previous) certificate/permit.
- Requests by UK citizens and their family members for issuing the (permanent) registration certificate for EU citizen, or the (permanent) residence permit for family member of EU citizen, submitted before the withdrawal that have not yet been decided upon, will continue to be processed. Requests will be processed under the conditions that apply to the issuance of those certificates and permits for which a request was submitted. If the conditions are met, UK citizens and their family members will be issued biometric temporary or permanent residence permits. Temporary residence permits issued in this case will be valid for one year or for the period of the intended stay in Slovenia if it is shorter than one year. For family members of UK citizens, such permits will be valid for the same period as temporary residence permits for UK citizens.
- UK citizens and their family members living in the Slovenian territory on the day of the withdrawal without registration certificate or residence permit during allowed 90 day period since the day they entered in the country under the Aliens Act (Official Gazette RS no. 1/18 – consolidated version and 9/18) and will wish to reside in Slovenia for more than 90 days shall be allowed to submit to administrative units – until the expiry of 90 days – an application for registration certificates on residence permit for family members of EU citizen. In such cases, biometric temporary residence permits will be issued for the period of one year or for the period of intended stay in Slovenia if it is shorter than one year. For family members of UK citizens, such permits will be valid for the same period as biometric temporary residence permits issued to UK citizens.
For other UK citizens and their family members, after the withdrawal, concerning their entry, departure and residence in Republic of Slovenia, the provisions of the Aliens Act shall apply that refer to citizens of countries that are not European Economic Area member.
The European Commission has invited EU Member States to adopt a generous approach to the question of the rights of UK citizens in the EU, conditioned by the adoption of such an approach by the United Kingdom towards EU citizens. Member States were further invited to guarantee that UK citizens living as permanent legal residents in the EU on the day of the withdrawal would be able to continue living in those Member States as legal residents.
With regard to EU citizens, including Slovenes and their family members who already reside in the UK, the UK Government has announced that no changes are expected concerning their status, rights of residence, employment, or health and social security; even in the event of a no-deal Brexit, these issues will be dealt with in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement.
Economic cooperation and trade
Businesses that trade with the United Kingdom will be faced with changes both in the case of an agreed‑upon Brexit as well as in a no-deal scenario. In the latter case, on 1 November 2019 the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules on customs tariffs and quotas on goods will take effect for all goods traded between the United Kingdom and the Union.
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, from the EU perspective the United Kingdom is to become a third country without a preferential agreement, meaning that upon the withdrawal its citizens and businesses will become third country subjects. For goods originating in the United Kingdom, the WTO rules and the MFN ('Most Favoured Nation') customs tariffs will be applied when imported into the EU, the same applying to goods originating in the Union that will be imported into the United Kingdom. EU legislation will cease to apply in the United Kingdom. If the essential legislation and bilateral agreements are not adopted on time, all permits and certificates, including the mutual recognition of vocational qualifications and others, will cease to be valid. Complications resulting from altered border-control protocols are expected, driven by customs and phytosanitary checks, prolonged procedures, logistical issues and other factors.
Possible foreign policy consequences
After the June 2016 referendum, the Government of Slovenia expressed regret over the decision of UK voters to leave the European Union. This sovereign decision, voted at a referendum, will have certain consequences for international activities of both the Republic of Slovenia as well as the Union as a whole. The future cooperation between the United Kingdom and EU Member States in matters of foreign policy will be clear only after the conclusion of the agreement on future cooperation between the two entities. The declaration on future relations, which is part of the Withdrawal Agreement, will be irrelevant if the Agreement is not ratified. Both the United Kingdom and the Union have expressed an interest that, while recognizing that the United Kingdom is no longer an EU Member State, such cooperation should be as close as possible, including in the area of foreign affairs.
Regardless of whether the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified or not, there will be a need for constructive dialogue on future cooperation between the United Kingdom and the European Union. Bilateral cooperation will need to be strengthened to maintain all current areas of productive cooperation. Here, it should be noted that the United Kingdom remains a central ally within NATO and that cooperation will continue within multilateral frameworks.