Brexit: European Commission publishes Communication on preparing for the UK's withdrawal from the EU


On 19 July 2018, the European Commission has adopted a Communication outlining the ongoing work on the preparation for all outcomes of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union.

On 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom notified the European Council of its intention to leave the European Union. Unless a ratified withdrawal agreement establishes another date or the European Council, in accordance with Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union and in agreement with the United Kingdom, unanimously decides that the Treaties cease to apply at a later date, all Union primary and secondary law will cease to apply to the United Kingdom from 30 March 2019, 00:00h (CET).

So, on that day, the United Kingdom will leave the EU and become a third country. This will have repercussions for citizens, businesses and administrations in both the United Kingdom and the EU; these repercussions range from new controls at the EU's outer border with the UK, to the validity of UK-issued licences, certificates and authorisations and to different rules for data transfers.

Stakeholders, as well as national and EU administrations, therefore need to prepare for two possible main scenarios:

  1. if the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified before 30 March 2019, so that it can enter into force on that date, EU law will cease to apply to and in the UK on 1 January 2021, e. after a transition period of 21 months.
  2. If the Withdrawal Agreement is not ratified before 30 March 2019, there will be no transition period and EU law will cease to apply to and in the UK as of 30 March 2019. This is referred to as the "no deal" or "cliff-edge" scenario.

Therefore, preparing for the United Kingdom being a third country is of paramount importance, even in the least disruptive scenario.

Over the past year, the Commission has screened the entire Union acquis (body of EU law) to examine whether any changes are needed in light of the UK's withdrawal. To that effect, the Commission has adopted specific, targeted legislative proposals (see “Pending and planned legislative proposals for the purposes of Brexit preparedness” document) to ensure that EU rules continue to function smoothly in a Union of 27 after the UK's withdrawal.

  Click here to download The Communication and all other related documents