dpa/GNA – Four-and-a-half years after a British referendum on membership in the European Union, Brexit is finally reality after Britain left the single market at the stroke of midnight CET (2300 GMT) on New Year’s Eve.
Never before had an EU member state filed for divorce.
The separation took years of messy negotiations before finally, at the last moment, a breakthrough trade deal worth 660 billion pounds (900 billion dollars) was struck on Christmas Eve.
The pact averts tariffs and quotas on goods, sparing businesses on both sides seismic upheaval.
As of Friday, the two closely intertwined partners begin a new era in their relations of much looser cooperation governed mainly by the new Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).
Freedom of movement to live and work will end, though short-term travel stays largely visa-free.
Goods will be more heavily controlled, both at British-EU frontiers and within the United Kingdom – at the Irish sea border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
Businesses on both sides will have to jump through hoops to prove they qualify for tariff exemption.
Moreover, key decisions are still to be made deciding the fate of many service sector companies.
However, the much-feared backlogs of goods at borders due to increased red tape may not be immediately visible, as early January is a typically slow moment for freight.
A last-minute deal between Spain and Britain struck on Thursday also allows for continued free movement between Gibraltar and Spain.