Brexit Briefing 28.01.2020

Despite amendments put forward by the House of Lords on child refugees, EU citizens’ rights and the EU Courts of Justice, the much battered Withdrawal Agreement Bill was passed by Parliament and given Royal Assent and made into UK law last week. The final stage of ratification of the withdrawal agreement is in the European Parliament tomorrow.

Therefore, the UK will leave the EU on the 31st January and enter a transition period until 31 December 2020. The UK can request to extend the transition period but are currently not considering this.

What impacts will there be on travel between 1 February 2020 and 31 December 2020?

  • There will be no changes for visitors to or from the UK during 2020 as EU laws still apply to the UK and UK nationals can continue to travel to the EU exactly as they do now
  • EHIC cards are still valid;
  • UK passports in the EU need to be valid for the length of stay during the transition period. (You won’t need a visa or six months left on your passport or evidence of a return ticket).
  • People applying for a new passport will probably continue to receive EU burgundy ones until the middle of 2020, when it is expected that the UK’s blue one will be introduced.
  • Pet passports will stay the same.
  • There will be no extra taxes and tariffs.

What else will happen?

  • Three million 50 pence Brexit commemorative coins will be released.
  • The UK will continue to be tethered to the eu, rules, and pay into the budget while the future official relationship is worked out.
  • Phase 2 of the Brexit trade negotiations will start and the UK will formally be able to negotiate with other non EU countries.
  • The UK can start negotiating with other non-EU nations, but can’t start any other deals until 1 January 2021.
  • The UK will not be a member of EU institutions.
  • 73 UK MEPS will automatically lose their seats.
  • The UK will no longer be able to vote in the EU Parliament but they will need to follow regulation single market and customs union.
  • EU funding for projects will continue in 2020.

A no-deal for 2021 is still possible. Will that cause problems at borders?

According to Tom Jenkins from ETOA: “Yes, unless the EU and UK can agree to let the existing arrangement continue. The difficulty lies in the fact that EU countries have a binding obligation to treat non-EU/EEA visitors differently. This could lead to delays at borders, as no country has yet to build immigration capacity sufficient to cope with full scrutiny of big volumes of arrivals. The UK can choose to do what it pleases. So UK nationals may face bureaucratic obstacles at borders, whilst at the same time imposing no controls. UK nationals facing increased bureaucracy married to no control may become part of the Brexit narrative.”

It is also likely that in 2021

  • UK citizens will need six months on a passport to go to the EU End of phase one of Brexit
  • UK citizens will be subject to ETIAS when introduced by the EU from 2021 for non-EU visa waiver countries. The fee will be €7 per person valid for 3 years and allow multiple entries.

How different will the political landscape be in January 2021

There has been a great deal of posturing from UK ministers and EU officials in the past week about how aligned to the EU and the UK will be in 2021. The EU has stated that without alignment, there will be no free trade deal for the UK.

BBC Brexitcast commentators outlined the fine line UK politicians have to tread. Businesses are worried about how much they will have to change if they still want to keep selling into the EU, yet Brexiteer politicians have to demonstrate why Brexit is worth it.

The BBC points out that there has already been a shift in language from the Chancellor who stated that the UK will maintain high standards because the UK chooses to.

Commentators believe that Britain will opt back into a lot of EU regulations.

The Times outlined that the only part of Brexit that has been “‘done’ so far relates to citizens' rights, the divorce bill and Northern Ireland. Pretty much everything else is up for grabs.” As a result, many EU politicians from the Irish Prime Minister to the Head of the EU Commission has said how difficult forging a deal within the year is going to be.


UNWTO Arrivals Up, Growth Rate Down

The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) reported that international tourist arrivals hit 1.5 billion worldwide in 2019, 3.8% up on the previous year, marking a tenth consecutive year of growth.

However, global growth in travel was more than two percentage points below the 6% rate of 2017 and 2018.

The UNWTO attributed the slowdown to “uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the collapse of Thomas Cook, geopolitical and social tensions and the global economic slowdown”.

It reported the slowdown affected “mainly advanced economies, particularly Europe and Asia Pacific”.

Eurostar Reports Record Passengers Despite Strikes And Brexit

Eurostar and Eurotunnel parent Getlink reported a 2% fall in shuttle passenger-vehicle numbers year on year to 2.6 million and a revenue fall of 2% year on year to €630 million. However, Eurostar saw a record year – recording a 1% rise in passenger numbers to more than 11 million.

Group chairman and chief executive Jacques Gounon said: “We estimate the uncertainties surrounding Brexit and the social movements in France adversely impacted revenue by €18 million.”

Inghams and Explore parent Hotelplan blames Brexit as turnover drops 4%

Swiss group Hotelplan blamed “an extremely volatile environment” for a 4% fall in turnover in the 12 months to October.

The group also noted: “The insolvency of Thomas Cook, one of Hotelplan UK’s most-important distribution and flight partners, had a detrimental impact.”

Brexit means Brits are delaying breaks, says poll

Research by Holiday Extras and reported by Travel Weekly found that

  • 1/5 of UK Holidaymakers are put-off by Holidays in Europe due to Brexit uncertainty (1/3 among those aged 35-44).
  • The reasons are:
    • 25% concerned of limited accessibility of medical insurance
    • 20% worried about availability of reciprocal healthcare.
    • 23% worried about passport controls
    • 18% on exchange rates to euro
    • 15% on passport changes
    • 14% concerned of negative attitudes towards Britons
    • 8% put their holiday plans on hold due to Brexit
    • 5% choose a staycation

VisitBritain launches campaign to shore up European visitors

VisitBritain is launching a new campaign in the spring to ensure Europeans book trips this year.

The campaign announcement comes as British tourism is experiencing an unprecedented boom, despite a pre-Brexit drop in European arrivals.

Overall spending by overseas visitors is predicted to reach a record £26.6 billion in 2020, a 6.6% increase on the expected 2019 figure of £25 billion.

The number of overseas visits to the UK is forecast to rise this year to a record 39.7 million, up 2.9% on 2019.

But tourism is an extremely competitive global industry and it is important to acknowledge the challenges, according to British Tourist Authority chairman Steve Ridgway, former chief executive of Virgin Atlantic.

Institute of Travel and Tourism: ‘We won’t Endorse Brexit’

Writing in TTG, Stephen Freudmann, Chairman of ITT said: “ITT members voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, so ITT certainly won’t be endorsing Brexit. This means, until the moment comes to re-engage with Johnson’s actual long-term plan for our relations with the EU, we should focus on talking about issues other than Brexit in the same way we would have done had Brexit not happened.

“More immigration already comes from outside the EU than from inside. We need to lobby hard to stop Brexit becoming a recipe for insularity and xenophobia.” He also said that: “It is equally vital that we boost the skills of our own young people.”


If you have any queries or comments contact Frances Tuke; frances@wearelotus.co.uk