Across the Brexit Finish Line – And Now What?

The dramatic June 2016 referendum in the United Kingdom in which 51.9 percent voted to leave the European Union initiated a long and arduous journey with multiple elections, extensions, and cliffhangers. On  January 31, 2020, at 11 p.m. GMT, the Brexit “finish line” will be crossed, concluding the process that was triggered when, in March 2017, the UK government invoked Article 50 and initiated the withdrawal procedure. Britain’s Parliament has now ratified a Withdrawal Agreement with the EU via the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020. The European Parliament, in turn, voted to approve the agreement on January 29. This means that all of the formal ratification procedures have now been completed.

But even with the divorce agreed, the UK and EU still face negotiation of the terms of their future relationship. A transition (implementation) phase will occur in the interim, lasting until  December 31, 2020 (or longer, if the UK government exercises its one-time right in July 2020 to extend the transition for two years). Negotiations during the transition need to cover an enormous range of issues, including trade, customs, and regulatory alignment (or nonalignment). This includes a new legal framework for immigration control after January 2021, when the transition period is set to end.

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Mayer Brown partners Elizabeth Espín Stern and Grace Shie, counsel Paul Justas Sarauskas and María Ferré highlight areas of interest in this publication.

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