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Brexit: Britons warned of ‘thorough’ EU border checks after transition period ends

The European Commission has given a stark warning of the barriers that will go up between the EU and..

The European Commission has given a stark warning of the barriers that will go up between the EU and the UK when the post-Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year, whatever the outcome of negotiations on future relations.

Britons are told that they will be “subject to thorough checks” at borders when entering EU countries (apart from Ireland) and the Schengen area, as they will be “treated as third-country nationals”.

EU pet passports will no longer be valid for people travelling with animals from the UK to the EU, and UK driving licences will not be automatically recognised but will be subject to the approval of individual countries.

The EU ban on additional mobile roaming charges will no longer be guaranteed for travellers between the UK and the continent, leaving British and EU operators free to slap on extra fees.

UK nationals will not need visas to stay in EU countries for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, as long as they don’t work and Britain acts likewise for EU visitors. But passengers may no longer be protected by EU consumer rights when travelling between the EU and the UK depending on the mode of transport, the Commission says.

The warnings come in a document published on Thursday, which calls for awareness of “these broad and far-reaching changes, which will arise under any scenario” (in italics in the original text).

The Commission makes it clear that the changes are the consequence of the British government’s choices on future relations, and on the decision not to extend the transition period.

New barriers and red tape

The paper focuses on areas not covered by the talks, which it says it does not want to prejudge. The UK left the EU on January 31 but most arrangements from its membership remain in place throughout the transition period.

Post-Brexit negotiations continued in London this week after both sides agreed to intensify talks. “Regardless of the outcome, there will be inevitable changes on 1/1/21,” tweeted the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

Even under “an ambitious partnership”, the future relationship will be very different from the UK’s membership of the EU Single Market and Customs Union, the document says. Britain’s exit from EU policies will “create barriers” to trade, movement across borders and exchanges.

“These inevitable disruptions will occur as of 1 January 2021 and risk compounding the pressure that businesses are already under due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” the paper says.

  • Michel Barnier has responded to an appeal by the pro-Brexit European Research Group of Conservative MPs to respect UK independence. ERG Chairman Mark Francois wrote to the EU’s chief negotiator to demand that a future deal respect “the UK’s sovereignty, integrity and autonomy”, rejecting EU “demands” over competition, fisheries and the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
  • In his reply, Barnier insists on an agreement on fisheries as part of an overall deal. He also points out that the commitment to a “level playing field” and the ECJ’s role in interpreting EU law are part of the Political Declaration, approved by Boris Johnson and the House of Commons — including Francois himself — in ratifying the Brexit divorce deal.

In the EU paper, businesses are urged to prepare for the post-Brexit regime, involving customs formalities which on the EU side will lead to “increased administrative burdens” and “longer delivery times”.

“Rules of origin” regulations will have to be followed, which could result in customs duties being imposed even if a zero-tariff, zero-quota EU-UK trade deal is struck. VAT and excise duties will be due on goods entering the EU from the UK.

The UK’s exit from the Single Market means there will no longer be a single regulatory framework, but two separate legal structures. This means that for imports, companies on both sides will need to take steps to ensure products — which will be subject to checks and controls — comply with potentially different rules and standards.

UK services lose automatic right to operate in EU

UK authorisations for services — in the financial, transport, audiovisual and energy sectors — will no longer be valid in the EU from January. This means that UK service providers and professionals will have to demonstrate they comply with EU conditions imposed on foreign firms or individuals. Professional qualifications will no longer automatically be recognised.

Financial services will no longer benefit from “passports” enabling them to operate across the bloc, and their ability to do so may be subject to the relevant EU nation’s rules on third countries.

The Commission document also outlines the changes to be expected in the transport industry. Outside the Single Market, UK operators of air, rail and road transport services will no longer have automatic access. Instead this will depend on the outcome of post-Brexit negotiations.

There is a repeat of a recent warning that the UK will have to comply with EU rules on data protection in order for transfers of personal data to continue.

Finally, the Commission points out that from the end of the transition period, the UK will no longer benefit from several hundred international agreements struck by the EU with third countries in matters such as trade, mutual recognition, veterinary arrangements or aviation.

The British government has argued that the UK’s ability to strike its own trade deals is one of the advantages of Brexit. Official information updated in late June lists agreements with 20 countries or trading blocs ready to take effect in January 2021.

Changes ‘unavoidable’

All the above changes will happen in any case, regardless of whether an agreement on the future relationship is struck, the EU document says. It describes them as “unavoidable” and simply the consequence of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, its Single Market and Customs Union.

Failure to reach a deal “would lead to disruptions that would be more far-reaching”, it adds, as tariffs would be imposed on imports and exports between the EU and the UK.

After the latest talks in London on the post-Brexit relationship, EU and UK negotiators agreed to continue discussions in Brussels next week ahead of the next formal round later in July.

Both sides remain far apart on matters such as trade, fisheries, governance and fairness in competition.

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Aliku Ogorchukwu: Wife of Nigerian killed in Italy demands justice

The wife of a Nigerian street trader who was killed in Italy has told the BBC she is seeking justice following his “painful death”.

Aliku Ogorchukwu, 39, was reportedly selling handkerchiefs in the seaside town of Civitanova Marche on Friday when he was chased and beaten to death.

A 32-year-old Italian has been arrested on suspicion of murder and robbery.

A video circulating online shows a man on top of Ogorchukwu, punching him with his bare hands.

None of those who witnessed the broad daylight attack appeared to intervene.

“This is a form of wickedness I don’t know,” Ogorchukwu’s wife, Charity Oriachi, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa.

Ms Oriachi said she had received help in coming to terms with her husband’s death but was tired of “talk”. Now, she was only interested in justice, she insisted.

Her family had lived in Italy for a long time, she said, stressing that her husband had never sought any trouble.

The killing has sparked outrage in the local community, including Nigerians, who took to the streets over the weekend and are planning another demonstration soon.

The Nigerian government has asked Italian authorities to quickly “bring the perpetrator of the heinous act” to justice.

Suspect not released

The suspect – a white man named as Filippo Claudio Giuseppe Ferlazzo – has been ordered to remain in jail as the investigation continues.

His defence lawyer told the media the suspect had said he was sorry and that there was “no racial element” involved.

A police investigator said Ogorchukwu was attacked after the trader’s “insistent” requests to the suspect and his partner for spare change.

The partner, identified as Elena D, told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that Ogorchukwu had touched her arm, but that did not bother her.

Ms Oriachi now wants to see the suspect “face to face”, to understand why he killed her husband, the family’s lawyer told the Associated Press.

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Ukrainian widow confronts Russian soldier accused of killing her husband

In the very first days of this invasion a 62-year-old unarmed civilian was shot dead on a village street outside his Ukrainian home. His name was Oleksandr Shelipov.

Three months later and the captured Russian soldier accused of killing him is in Kyiv being tried for a war crime.

Standing up in court to confront the 21-year-old defendant on Thursday was Kateryna Shelipova, the widow of the man killed.

Did he repent his crime, she asked?

The Russian tank commander, Vadim Shishimarin, replied that he admitted his guilt and asked for her forgiveness. “But I understand you won’t be able to forgive me,” he added.

Kateryna Shelipova hadn’t finished. “Tell me please, why did you [Russians] come here? To protect us?” she asked, citing Vladimir Putin’s justification for the invasion of Ukraine.

“Protect us from whom? Did you protect me from my husband, whom you killed?”

The soldier had no answer to that.

This landmark trial marks the first time a Russian serviceman has been put on the stand for war crimes since the invasion of Ukraine was launched in February.

And perhaps such raw encounters are what such trials are about, at least in part. Forcing a soldier – who ignored all the rules of war – to face up to exactly what he has done and the suffering he has caused.

Sgt Shishimarin has pleaded guilty and Ukrainian prosecutors are asking for him to be sentenced to life imprisonment.

On Wednesday, Ms Shelipova told me she actually felt sorry for the soldier, but she could not forgive him for this crime.

She heard the shots that killed her husband, then saw Sgt Shishimarin through her gate – holding his weapon.

Five minutes later she says she saw her husband’s body: “He was dead with a shot in his head. I started screaming very loudly.”

“The loss of my husband is everything for me,” Ms Shelipova said, adding: “He was my protector.”

‘It killed him’

Recalling the events of 28 February, Vadim Shishimarin said he and a small group of other Russian soldiers had become separated from their unit and hijacked a car in order to return to it.

“As we were driving, we saw a man. He was talking on the phone,” the defendant said.

He claimed that he hadn’t wanted to fire the fatal shots, that he was following orders – threatened by another soldier if he refused to do as he was told.

“He said I would be putting us in danger if I didn’t. I shot him at short range. It killed him,” the 21-year-old tank commander told the court.

Interestingly, his defence lawyer – appointed by the state – told me that no Russian official has been in touch with him, including from its defence ministry.

There is no Russian embassy in Kyiv these days, so no contact from there either.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman yesterday told the BBC that the Kremlin has “no information” about this case.

All in all, it feels rather like the young soldier has been abandoned to his fate by the commanders who sent him to war and continue to deny that their forces commit crimes here.

We also heard from a second Russian soldier who witnessed the killing in February and later surrendered to Ukrainian forces.

Ivan Maltysev, another slight and young-looking 21-year-old, told the court how the Russian soldiers spotted Oleksandr Shelipov while they were driving the stolen car.

Mr Maltysev claimed that Vadim Shishimarin was then ordered to shoot the victim because he was on the phone.

“Vadim didn’t do it. So the soldier, whose name I don’t know, turned round in the car and shouted that Vadim had to carry out the order, or we would be informed on.

“At this point, we were almost alongside the civilian and, under pressure, Vadim fired. He fired three or four rounds.”

Ukraine has so far identified more than 11,000 possible war crimes committed by Russia.

Moscow has denied its troops have targeted civilians, but investigators have been collecting evidence of possible war crimes to bring before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

This trial is Ukraine’s chance to prove, beyond doubt, that a Russian soldier killed a civilian with no regard for the rules of war.

Its prosecutors know they are in the spotlight, proceeding so quickly, and in the middle of a war.

That is why they are keen to be as transparent and thorough as possible – so that this is not seen as a show trial, but part of a vital quest for justice.

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