(Last updated: 03 February 2020)
On 23 June 2016 the United Kingdom voted in a referendum to leave the European Union.
Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union contains special provisions for the withdrawal of a Member State. These require a Member State which decides to leave to inform the European Council of its intention. The Treaties will cease to apply as of the date on which a withdrawal agreement takes effect or two years after withdrawal notification unless the European Council unanimously resolves to extend the deadline by mutual agreement with the Member State concerned.
For a long time, the withdrawal agreement negotiated between the EU and the UK was not adopted by the British Parliament, could not come into force and thus the withdrawal deadline was extended on several occasions.
Only after an early general election in December 2019 which the Conservative Party led by Boris Johnson won with a clear majority was the withdrawal agreement ratified by the UK parliament.
The United Kingdom left the EU on midnight of 31 January 2020, CET.
In accordance with the withdrawal agreement the UK will continue to have access to the single market and still be part of the customs union during the transition period until 31 December 2020. The continued application of EU law in the United Kingdom during this period is implemented inter alia by the European Union Withdrawal Agreement Act 2020. The German legislature has adopted the Brexit Transition Act in which it is confirmed that German federal laws relating to membership of the EU will also continue to apply to the United Kingdom during the transition period.
The intention is to negotiate and ratify a free trade agreement between the UK and the EU before the transition period expires. There is not much time until the transition period expires on 31 December 2020. Although the withdrawal agreement does include a provision regulating the option of an extension to the transition period to be adopted jointly by the EU and the UK, this option was ruled out by the UK in the European Union Withdrawal Agreement Act 2020. Therefore, if 31 December 2020 remains unchanged as the end of the transition phase and the parties involved do not manage to agree a free trade agreement by then, the withdrawal agreement and its regulations will only cover a few areas. Many points remain unregulated. We offer you comprehensive advice on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU in all legal areas concerned. Please contact us with your questions so that we can work out the best solutions for you.
Timeline: Brexit and other Events relevant to the European Union in this context
Please find below a summary of the possible legal consequences of the UK's with-drawal from the EU, arranged according to areas of law. If you require any further information please feel free to contact John Hammond at any time.