Transition period

The withdrawal agreement (articles 126–132) contains provisions on the transition period. Negotiations on the future relationship between the EU and the UK can only be started after the UK has withdrawn from the EU. In other words, a transition period is needed between the withdrawal and the future relationship. In order to become effective, the transition period must be included in the withdrawal agreement.

According to the withdrawal agreement, the UK would become a third country, but during the transition period, current EU legislation would continue to apply, apart from certain minor exceptions that are specified in the withdrawal agreement. This would enable a smoother transition to the future partnership for citizens and businesses.

As a general rule, EU and UK citizens and legal persons would be treated as if the UK were still a member of the EU during the transition period.

  • The UK would remain in the EU’s internal market and the customs union.
  • The EU’s treaties, regulations, trade policy and international agreements would continue to apply to the UK as such.
  • European Union law would have the same legal effect in the UK as in any other Member State.
  • The Commission’s power of control, the power of the EU Court of Justice, as well as the powers of EU institutions, bodies and agencies would continue to apply to the UK.
  • Budgetary commitments would remain unaltered.

However, as a third country, the UK would leave all EU institutions, bodies and agencies on the withdrawal date. It would no longer participate in the EU decision-making during the transition period.

The transition period would start when the withdrawal agreement takes effect and end on 31 December 2020. If more time is needed for the negotiations on the future EU–UK relations, the transition period can be extended once on the basis of a mutual decision, until 31 December 2022.