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After almost three years of twists and turns, the UK is finally set to leave the European Union (EU) at 23:00 on 31 January 2020 (Brexit Day). Despite Brexit Day being imminent, there are a multitude of issues for politicians to discuss and months of negotiations are sure to follow to ensure a deal is in place by the end of the year.
Here, we assess what, if any, changes will come into effect as a result of Brexit Day and what needs to be agreed.
Following the Conservative victory in December’s election, the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 (Act) received Royal Assent on 23 January 2020, thereby providing a legal framework for the terms of the UK’s withdrawal.
The Act conferred a ‘transition period’ (also known as the implementation period or ‘IP’) beginning on Brexit Day and ending on 31 December 2020, during which the UK will negotiate a new relationship with the EU.
A provision in the previous draft bill which would have allowed the UK to apply for an extension of this period was removed by Boris Johnson’s cabinet – thus codifying the ‘IP completion day’ as 31 December 2020.
Broadly speaking, throughout the transition period, the UK will continue to be subject to EU law and can continue to trade on the same terms.
Freedom of movement (ie. the right to reside and work in other EU member states) and the right to travel to other EU member states will also remain unchanged until 31 December 2020.
The only material change that will be in effect immediately following Brexit Day is that the UK will automatically revoke its membership of the EU's political institutions, including both the European Parliament and European Commission.
The absence of political representation in EU institutions curtails the UK’s voting rights, meaning that it will be bound by all existing EU regulations and unable to vote against any proposed legislative amendments. The European Court of Justice will remain as the foremost authority for legal disputes.
As most aspects remain the same during the transition period, the major points of contention for the future relationship between the UK and the EU all need to be agreed in the subsequent 11 months.
This includes any:
The scale of how much still needs to be negotiated between the two parties is vast and there is a relatively short period of time in which to achieve this.
In conclusion, the pertinent message is that it remains very much ‘business as usual’ for businesses and individuals in the 11 months between Brexit Day and 31 December 2020. The situation thereafter is difficult to gauge. However, Myerson’s Brexit team will provide regular updates on developments (including risks to various sectors) and how businesses and individuals can minimise disruption.