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The UK officially left the bloc on January 31 this year. However, this is still not the end of the line for the UK and the remaining EU member states. The UK has now formally confirmed it will not extend the transition period, meaning a deal must be agreed to stop the UK exiting without a deal.
“The moment for an extension has now passed,” Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said.
The Government has also confirmed that it has scrapped plans to immediately introduce full import controls on EU goods in the new year.
Mr Gove said Britain would now phase in changes so businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic can have the “time to adjust”.
The EU has said it is open to any extension of the transition period to ensure the best deal possible for both sides.
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Reacting to the UK’s decision, EU head negotiator Michel Barnier said Brussels had “always been open to an extension”.
“At today’s joint committee, we took note of the UK’s decision not to extend. We must now make progress on substance,” he said.
“To give every chance to the negotiations, we agreed to intensify talks in the next weeks and months.”
The developments come after the first ministers of Scotland and Wales wrote to Boris Johnson demanding an extension to the transition period past the end of December.
In their letter, Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford signalled that ending the arrangement then would be “extraordinarily reckless” because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – and they believe it could lead to a “disastrous no deal outcome”.
Coronavirus has now directly claimed the lives of over 40,000 people in the UK so far.
What is the transition period?
The transition period is the 11 month period from January to December 2020 in which both sides will hold talks to agree a deal for what arrangements will look like following Brexit.
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The talks are to outline what the future relationship between the UK and EU will look like.
These talks include access to fishing waters, trade, security, aviation standards, freedom of movement, and licensing and regulation of medicines.
Currently, 49 percent of Britain’s trade is done with the EU.
When is the deadline?
The deadline for a deal to be agreed is December 31, 2020.
Until the end of the transition period, rules on both sides stay the same.
This means rules such freedom of movement and UK-EU trade, which will continue without any extra charges or checks being introduced for the time being.
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