On 23 June 2016, the British people voted to leave the European Union (EU). On 29 March 2017, the British Government formally notified the President of the European Council of this intention to leave. The UK will be leaving the EU two years after that formal notification.
The UK’s notification led to complex, difficult negotiations that ended up with a draft withdrawal agreement between the British Government and the European Council, which the European Council approved on 25 November 2018.
This draft withdrawal agreement concerns managing the consequences of Brexit, including:
- citizens’ rights
- the Irish border
- the financial arrangements
- managing the transition period
The terms of the future UK-EU relationship have been approved separately from the withdrawal agreement, and became the subject of a joint political declaration that forms the basis for the future partnership.
These two texts were submitted to the British Parliament but could not be approved due to disagreements, in particular on the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland and the political declaration on future relations.
On 17 October 2019, a new agreement was reached between the EU-27 and the UK, which was approved by the European Council on the same day.
On 22 October 2019, the British Parliament voted in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (supposed to implement the withdrawal agreement under British law), but refused the very tight timetable proposed by Boris Johnson to approve the agreement. Johnson has therefore suspended the legislative process for the time being.
On 28 October 2019, the EU27 supported an extension of the Article 50 negotiations until 31 January 2020.
Since 1 February 2020, after full ratification of the withdrawal agreement, we have entered the transition period. This limited transition period has been agreed as part of the withdrawal agreement and will last at least until 31 December 2020. Until that time, there will be no changes for citizens, consumers, businesses, investors, students and researchers in the EU and the UK. The United Kingdom will no longer be represented in EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies, but Union law will continue to apply to the United Kingdom until the end of the transition period.
The EU and the UK will use these months to agree on a new and fair partnership for the future, based on the political declaration adopted by the EU and the UK in October 2019.