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Britain leaves the European Union

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Britain leaves the European Union

Richard Corbett, MEP - Photo © European Union 2020 - Source EP

(LONDON) - More than 45 years of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union came to an end on Saturday, as the UK's EU withdrawal agreement entered into force at midnight CET.

From that time on, the UK is no longer considered to be an EU Member State and is considered as a third country.

Brexit is a result of second-rate, self-serving politicians persuading people who had been forgotten, and let down by these very same politicians, that it was not they, but the EU that was to blame for their troubles.

This is a sad day for people who fought tirelessly for European integration, and for Europe-wide policies that made lives better for us, and for millions of Europeans.

It is a sad day for those who fought so hard to stop the retreat of Great Britain towards Little England.

And sad for those who fought to preserve a tolerant society, free of hate, racism and bigotry.

The Withdrawal Agreement provides for a transition period until at least 31 December 2020, during which the UK remains a member of the Single Market and Customs Union.

This transition period, foreseen in the withdrawal agreement, aims to provide more time for citizens and businesses to adapt. It covers citizens' rights, the financial settlement, a transition period, protocols on Ireland/Northern Ireland, Cyprus and Gibraltar, governance and other separation issues.

During the transition period, the UK will continue to apply Union law but it will no longer be represented in the EU institutions. The transition period can be extended once for a period of up to one or two years, if both sides agree to this before 1 July 2020.

The negotiations on the future partnership between the EU and the UK will start once the UK has left the EU. The framework for this future relationship was set out in the political declaration agreed by both sides in October 2019.

On Monday, 3 February, the Commission will adopt and present draft negotiating directives for the future relationship negotiations with the United Kingdom to the Council.

In a statement, the presidents of the three main EU institutions, David Sassoli, Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen regretted the UK's decision to leave but fully respected it. They said the agreement was fair for both sides and ensured that millions of EU and UK citizens will continue to have their rights protected in the place they call home.

They also looked forward to building "a new partnership between enduring friends. Together, our three institutions will do everything in their power to make it a success.

They were ready to be ambitious, they said: "How close that partnership will be depends on decisions that are still to be taken. Because every choice has a consequence. Without the free movement of people, there can be no free movement of capital, goods and services. Without a level playing field on environment, labour, taxation and state aid, there cannot be the highest quality access to the single market. Without being a member, you cannot retain the benefits of membership."

Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, 18 October 2019

Revised political declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the UK, 17 October 2019

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