After years of negotiation and countless debates, the United Kingdom finally left the European Union on January 31, 2020. This historic event marked the end of the withdrawal agreement period, which began on March 29, 2017.

While many people believe that the withdrawal agreement represented the end of Brexit, it is important to understand that this is only the beginning. There are still many issues that need to be addressed before the UK can fully benefit from its new status as a non-member of the EU.

So, what comes after the withdrawal agreement? Here are some of the key issues that still need to be addressed:

1. Future Trade Deal

One of the biggest challenges facing the UK post-Brexit is the establishment of a new trade deal with the EU. Trade between the two regions is currently governed by the terms of the withdrawal agreement, but this is only a temporary arrangement.

Negotiations over the terms of a new trade deal have been ongoing for several months, but progress has been slow. The two sides still have significant differences on issues such as fishing rights and regulatory alignment. If a new deal is not reached by December 31, 2020, the UK will default to trading with the EU on World Trade Organization terms.

2. Northern Ireland

The withdrawal agreement included a protocol designed to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Under this protocol, Northern Ireland remains in the EU single market for goods, and regulatory checks are conducted on goods crossing the Irish Sea.

However, this arrangement has proved controversial, with some unionists in Northern Ireland objecting to the perceived separation of Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. Ongoing negotiations will determine how this protocol will be implemented in practice.

3. Immigration

The UK has left the free movement area, which means EU citizens no longer have an automatic right to live and work in the UK. Instead, a new points-based immigration system will be introduced from January 1, 2021.

Under this system, immigrants will need to demonstrate their skills and qualifications, and meet certain other criteria, to be eligible for a visa. The new system has been criticised by some who fear it will make it harder for businesses to recruit skilled workers.

4. Security and Defence

The UK and the EU have a close relationship when it comes to security and defence matters, with the UK being a major contributor to EU missions and programmes. The two sides have agreed to continue working together in areas such as counter-terrorism and cyber security.

The UK has also signalled its intention to become more involved in NATO, but this could lead to tensions with the EU if it is seen as undermining the EU`s common security and defence policy.

In conclusion, while the withdrawal agreement represented a significant milestone in the Brexit process, there is still much work to be done. Negotiations over the future trade deal, the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol, the new immigration system and the UK`s relationship with the EU on security and defence matters are just a few of the issues that will need to be resolved in the coming months and years.