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Travel, health, finance, agriculture... How will people in Northern Ireland cope after Brexit?


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When it comes to passport control, during the transition period, UK nationals will still be allowed to queue in the areas reserved for EU arrivals only (stock photo)

When it comes to passport control, during the transition period, UK nationals will still be allowed to queue in the areas reserved for EU arrivals only (stock photo)

PA Archive/PA Images

When it comes to passport control, during the transition period, UK nationals will still be allowed to queue in the areas reserved for EU arrivals only (stock photo)

How will people in Northern Ireland cope after Brexit? Gillian Halliday looks at the key areas.

Car insurance

Northern Ireland drivers travelling across the border will not be required to carry green cards - the internationally recognised proof of motor insurance - during the transition Brexit period, according to the British Association of Insurers.

However, once the transition period ends on December 31, and if no agreement on the issue between the UK and the EU is in place, the organisation says it may be necessary for motorists to contact their insurer to obtain a green card to travel over the border past this date.

If this is the case, local holidaymakers taking their own vehicle to destinations in mainland Europe will also need to ensure they take their green cards with them. This shows authorities that they have insurance that provides at least the minimum cover.

Health

The Department of Health has stated that health and social care services are not expected to be immediately affected and will continue to work as normal on a day-to-day basis.

No major disruption to cross-border health care services is expected, with any potential impacts to be discussed with the Department of Health and Social Care (UK) and the Department of Health (RoI).

The British Medical Association (BMA) NI has raised concerns that with 11 months to finish negotiations on the UK's future relationship with the EU, there are still issues to be resolved - including cross-border health services, as well as the transport of medicines over the border.

The BMA has also stressed that replacement funding for EU-funded services still needs to be found.

Passports

When it comes to passport control, during the transition period, UK nationals will still be allowed to queue in the areas reserved for EU arrivals only.

Blue passports will be making a return, replacing the current burgundy design.

EU chief Michel Barnier has said Northern Irish citizens who identify as Irish remain EU citizens, retaining the right to move freely within the EU beyond the transition period. For those with British passports, the picture is less clear. The UK government has said visas for trips under 90 days are not required but longer stays for business or pleasure may require visas depending on the specific country.

From 2021, pets travelling in the EU will still need their own passports as well as extra certificates and vaccinations, but this is yet to be decided.

Finance

The current Brexit deal prevents a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

But business chiefs have raised concerns over the introduction of new Irish Sea trade checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

Mr Barnier has insisted that frictionless commerce was impossible because the deal creates two regulatory spaces, but UK-EU trade will continue without any extra charges or checks being introduced.

During the transition phase, schemes, paid for by EU grants, will continue to be funded.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed that UK citizens working in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland will continue to have access to benefits and pensions despite the UK leaving the EU.

Travel

The UK and Irish Governments have confirmed that the Common Travel area - the travel zone between the Republic of Ireland and the UK, Isle of Man and Channel Islands - will continue after Brexit, regardless of the type of UK exit.

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which gives people here access to healthcare while travelling in other EU countries as well as Switzerland, will also remain in place during the transition period.

Beyond that, Irish PM Leo Varadkar has proposed funding people living in Northern Ireland, so they can have access to an equivalent of the EHIC.

During the transition period until December 31, roaming charges on mobile phone calls will still apply to EU law. After that, exactly what happens will depend on the outcome of negotiations.

Agriculture

Boris Johnson's deal has been greeted by concern by large sections of the agriculture community here.

While some farmers and agri-employers have welcomed the fact the deal addresses some concerns about checks and tariffs on EU-bound goods, concerns about what it means for access to Northern Ireland's biggest single market, Great Britain, have also been raised.

The trade link between Northern Ireland and mainland UK accounts for almost half of our agri-food sales - the equivalent of £2.3bn.

A leaked treasury document raised significant issues with how the new arrangements might affect trade across the Irish Sea.

Meanwhile, the fishing industry has broadly welcomed the end of the Common Fisheries Policy, but what replaces it has yet to be agreed.

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