EU-UK Cooperation Agreements

After nine months of negotiations between the EU and the UK, an agreement was reached in principle at the negotiators’ level on 24 December 2020 and three agreements governing future relations and comprehensive cooperation between the EU and the UK were signed on 30 December 2020.

The new partnership between the EU and the UK, a former EU Member State that withdrew from the EU as of 1 February 2020 in accordance with Withdrawal Agreement of the UK from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, is now governed by the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the Agreement concerning Security Procedures for Exchanging and Protecting Classified Information and the Agreement for Cooperation on the Safe and Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy.

This new EU-UK partnership enables free trade, without quotas or customs duties (for those goods complying with rules of origin), cooperation in a number of areas of mutual interest (such as transport, fisheries, energy etc.), cooperation in law enforcement and judicial cooperation, as well as a new governance framework with envisaged instruments for dispute settlement.

The Agreements were provisionally applied from 1 January 2021 and entered into force on 1 May 2021, after the finalisation of the legal-linguistic revision of all their language versions and, in the case of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and the Security of Information Agreement, after the consent of the European Parliament, following which the Council adopted its Decision on the conclusion of the Agreements.

Full texts of the Agreements are published in the Official Journal of the EU.

Additional information regarding the new partnership is available on the European Commission's website.

Further changes in EU-UK relations starting from 1 January 2021

As of 1 January 2021, the relationship with the UK in areas that do not fall under the Agreements on cooperation between the EU and the UK is governed by national legislation and other international agreements in force, including the Withdrawal Agreement of the UK from the EU.

In order to prepare all stakeholders for the changes in mutual relations starting from 1 January 2021, especially in the area of cross-border trade and mobility of citizens, the European Commission published a Communication on readiness at the end of the transition period between the EU and the UK and updated numerous sector-specific stakeholder preparedness notices.

Information for citizens who are beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement of the UK from the EU as of 1 January 2021

The Withdrawal Agreement allows EU nationals in the UK, as well as UK nationals in the EU, and their family members, to continue living, working or studying under the same conditions as before the withdrawal, in accordance with EU law (the right of residence, seeking employment, work without a work permit, equal access to health services and pensions, leaving the UK or EU for a maximum of five years without losing their rights, etc.). This also applies to those nationals who came to stay in the UK or EU during the transition period, i.e. until 31 December 2020.

For more specific information about the Agreement, please refer to the European Commission’s Communication on the main elements of the Agreement and a short video on the subject.

Croatian citizens’ rights in the UK

In order to retain their rights, EU citizens must obtain a status certificate by 30 June 2021 at the latest through a British Government scheme called the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). Croatian citizens who can prove that they have been lawfully resident in the UK for five or more years should obtain the so-called settled status, and those Croatian citizens who have resided in the UK for less than five years, the so-called pre-settled status (which allows them to secure a settled status when they accumulate the above-mentioned five years of residence in the UK). Please note that the need to regulate residence does not apply to those Croatian nationals who have British citizenship in addition to Croatian.

For more detailed information, please refer to the UK Government website.

The status regulation process is free of charge. The decision to confirm the status and the granting of residence is within the competence of the British Home Office, and the Croatian state administration bodies and the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in London are not empowered to make judgments about meeting the necessary conditions.

The proper implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and its section on citizens’ rights is being continuously monitored through the EU-UK Joint Committee, as well as the Specialised Committee on Citizens’ Rights, enabling the parties to exchange current information and monitor progress. 

UK citizens’ rights in the Republic of Croatia

Regarding residence rights of UK citizens and members of their families, the Agreement allows EU Member States to choose between two schemes: the constitutive residence scheme as required by Article 18(1), and the declaratory residence scheme under Article 18(4) of the Agreement.

The residence rights of UK citizens in the Republic of Croatia are governed by Article 18(4) of the Agreement, i.e. the declaratory scheme, according to which UK citizens and their family members are not obliged to apply for a new residence status as a condition for legal residence.

Under the declaratory scheme, and the provisions of the Act on the amendments to the Act on EEA nationals and their family members (Official Gazette, No 144/20, published in Croatian), UK citizens and members of their families will be granted residence status based on the fact that they meet the conditions laid down in the Agreement and for as long as they meet those conditions. Their residence status will not, therefore, be conditioned by a constitutive decision of Croatian authorities.

Beneficiaries of the Agreement are able to register their residence as of 1 January 2021, and on completion of the procedure, they will be issued a residence permit confirming their status. Residence permits should be obtained before 30 June 2021. After the deadline, it will be still possible to apply for a residence permit, but the beneficiaries of the Agreement may be fined.

For all additional information related to the issuance of residence documents, as well as certificates that will be issued to UK citizens with the status of a frontier worker, please visit the website of the Ministry of the Interior.

Based on the Croatian Road Traffic Safety Act (Official Gazette Nos. 67/08, 48/10, 74/11, 80/13, 158/13, 92/14, 64/15, 108/17, 70/19, 42/20), UK driving licenses will be valid in the Republic of Croatia for up to one year after the UK leaves the EU. After that, they will have to be replaced with Croatian driving licenses, and the applicant will have to submit a certificate of medical fitness to drive. UK nationals and nationals of other countries who are holders of UK driving licenses are advised to apply for the replacement of their driving licenses with a Croatian driving license as soon as possible. All additional information can be found on the website of the Ministry of the Interior.

For additional information for UK citizens working and living in Croatia please refer to the UK Government website: Living in Croatia.