1

The Economist has published a convenient chart explaining the "final" Brexit deal:

brexit deal chart

Does this essentially mean that the EU has agreed to a full customs union without freedom of workers movement? Or did The Economist misinterpret how the agreement would work?

4

The Economist is being vague, probably because some argue that freedom of movement has ended (using a future post-transition period), others that it hasn't changed much (using the present context). In fact most things will remain similar to what they are now during the transition period and likely a few years afterwards. There are however new sources of friction for whomever wants to stay long term in the UK.

As for the customs union notice that it has no direct relation with the freedom of movement. Turkey is in the customs union. You probably mean the single market which requires the 4 freedoms to be respected. Not the purpose of your question but you can learn more about this here (in relation to the draft deal).

NOTE: This is a big document and I've only read a few bits and pieces. I've quoted specifically those articles because they seem to have little or no ambiguity. I'll try to update this answer if I learn something.


Indeed the Free Movement will continue for at least 5 years after the transition period during the transition period (refer to EDIT1 for my source on this).

On the Article 14 of Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union rules are set for residents in the host state:

ARTICLE 14

Right of exit and of entry

  1. Union citizens and United Kingdom nationals, their respective family members, and other persons, who reside in the territory of the host State in accordance with the conditions set out in this Title shall have the right to leave the host State and the right to enter it, as set out in Article 4(1) and the first subparagraph of Article 5(1) of Directive 2004/38/EC, with a valid passport or national identity card in the case of Union citizens and United Kingdom nationals, and with a valid passport in the case of their respective family members and other persons who are not Union citizens or United Kingdom nationals.

    Five years after the end of the transition period, the host State may decide no longer to accept national identity cards for the purposes of entry to or exit from its territory if such cards do not include a chip that complies with the applicable International Civil Aviation Organisation standards related to biometric identification.

  2. No exit visa, entry visa or equivalent formality shall be required of holders of a valid document issued in accordance with Article 18 or 26.

Also things would look pretty similar for EU citizens the foreseeable future:

ARTICLE 17

Status and changes

  1. The right of Union citizens and United Kingdom nationals, and their respective family members, to rely directly on this Part shall not be affected when they change status, for example between student, worker, self-employed person and economically inactive person. Persons who, at the end of the transition period, enjoy a right of residence in their capacity as family members of Union citizens or United Kingdom nationals, cannot become persons referred to in points (a) to (d) of Article 10(1).

  2. The rights provided for in this Title for the family members who are dependants of Union citizens or United Kingdom nationals before the end of the transition period, shall be maintained even after they cease to be dependants.

But some of the articles (see 18) also set out the rules and guidelines for permanent residence (after the transition). This increase in bureaucracy will necessary create friction for people intending to stay in the UK in the long term.


EDIT1 (16, November, 2018): As @phoog point out these articles refer to citizens in the host state (UK in this case). I didn't manage to find a clear assertion of freedom of movement rights in the draft (but again I haven't really read the document either). For now I can only quote the EU press release on the subject:

The transition period is set to end on 31 December 2020, taking into account the initial request from the UK for a transition period of around two years, and making it coincide with the end of the current long-term EU budget (the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020).

During this period, the entire Union acquis will continue to apply to and in the UK as if it were a Member State. This means that the UK will continue to participate in the EU Customs Union and the Single Market (with all four freedoms) and all Union policies.

  • 1
    "Free Movement will continue for at least 5 years after the transition period": not quite, at least not on the basis of the articles you cite. These articles apply only to those "who reside in the territory of the host State." But (non-Irish) EU citizens who reside outside the UK will not have freedom of movement in the UK by virtue of their citizenship. Neither will UK citizens who reside outside the EU have freedom of movement in the EU by virtue of their citizenship. – phoog Nov 16 '18 at 16:01
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    @phoog You are right. I've tried to correct my answer and added and EDIT comment to refer to a new source. I was hopping to find the answer directly on the draft text but for now I can only refer to the press release. Thanks for the correction. – armatita Nov 16 '18 at 16:24
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    "I didn't manage to find a clear assertion of freedom of movement rights in the draft": I wouldn't expect to find it there. The consensus seems to be that UK citizens not residing in the EU will become visa-free travelers in the Schengen area, and vice versa, though there's some talk about requiring UK citizens to have visas if the UK starts requiring visas of any EU country's citizens (for example, of eastern countries). There's been some noise in the English press about UK citizens being subjected to ETIAS when it is implemented. – phoog Nov 18 '18 at 0:14
  • @phoog I was expecting that and others points to be clearer. Perhaps I fail to interpret this correctly but this seems to me like an unofficial extension to the negotiations. A bunch of EU members are already moving to have some guarantees about the 4 freedoms (among other things like fisheries) and Barnier already talked about an extension to the extension, days after the release of the draft. I don't think I can definitively answer the OP question without seeing the actual final deal (1, 3, 5, etc. years from now). – armatita Nov 19 '18 at 11:05
  • The bit about "Five years after the end of the transition period..." has nothing to do with rights and everything with paperwork. It means that you can no longer use a non-biometric identity document to prove your identity (and maybe rights), but must use one with biometrics or a passport. Quite boring actually and not controversial. – Paul de Vrieze Nov 19 '18 at 14:16
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The customs union is not really related to freedom of movement. All the customs union requires is that the UK continues to enforce EU standards on all goods coming in to the UK. It does not require the UK to allow freedom of movement of labour, that's something that is tied to the Single Market.

In practice without a hard border there will be nothing to stop people simply walking/driving into the UK, but they wouldn't have a legal right to work or live there.

  • The customs union also requires its members to enforce a unified tariff system. The idea that a customs union primarily concerns product standards is baffling. "In practice without a hard border there will be nothing to stop people simply walking/driving into the UK, but they wouldn't have a legal right to work or live there": indeed, they wouldn't necessarily even have a legal right (or even authorization) to be in the UK, let alone work or live there. – phoog Nov 16 '18 at 16:02
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Single market is more than having the same rules. It means that everything functions as if it is one market. It requires that one can do business as easily in the other country inside the market as in. The only challenges would be customer expectations (perhaps they have different cultural preferences, or would like labels in their own language). This is not only a matter of having the same rules, but also a matter of mutual recognition and much more intense collaboration.

The regulatory alignment only means that the UK will not be able to produce the same goods for a lower price because (as an extreme example) they don't need expensive environmental controls as an EU producer would. This would provide an incentive for smuggling and cannot be allowed.

  • The regulatory alignment means far more than "that the UK will not be able to produce the same goods for a lower price"; it also concerns aligning product standards for imported goods. But this question is about the customs union, not the single market. They are different. The customs union concerns, in addition to regulatory alignment, a unified tariff system. The single market is more comprehensive, for in addition to the free movement of goods, it includes free movement of services, capital, and people. – phoog Nov 19 '18 at 15:32
  • @phoog Regulatory alignment is not, per se, part of a customs union. However, alignment is needed if you wish to eliminate checks at the border. A customs union just means that the same tariff applies and only needs to be paid once. The goods aspects of the single market are significantly further than a customs union. – Paul de Vrieze Nov 19 '18 at 16:42

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