Brexit: where do we stand?

The United Kingdom will leave the European Union – a process known as 'Brexit’ – on 29 March 2019. In the meantime the UK and the EU are negotiating the terms of Brexit. And discussing their future relationship. 

2 years of negotiations

The Brexit negotiations are being held in Brussels. They will carry on after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019. Only after Brexit can the EU and the UK start discussing the details of their new relationship.

The Brexit negotiations are taking a long time because the process is very complicated. This video clip explains why.

Brexit negotiations: phase 1

Several rounds of negotiations have already taken place. 

The UK and the EU first discussed:

  • the rights of EU citizens in the UK;
  • the rights of British citizens in the EU;
  • the financial settlement for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU;
  • the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, so that Brexit does not create any unnecessary barriers.

The UK and the EU issued a joint report (PDF) on progress during phase 1 of the negotiations. Based on this report, the remaining EU countries decided that sufficient progress had been made to move on to the next phase.

Brexit negotiations: phase 2

In phase 2 the UK and the EU are discussing:

  • a transition period after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on 29 March 2019;
  • the conditions which their new relationship must meet;
  • issues from phase 1 that have not yet been settled.

The EU has incorporated the agreements from the first and second phase of negotiations into  a draft withdrawal agreement (PDF) between the EU and the UK to pave the way for Brexit.  In the agreement:

  • points already agreed are highlighted green;
  • points on which there is political agreement but which still have to be worked out in more detail are highlighted yellow; 
  • the rest of the text contains EU proposals which have not yet been agreed, because of a lack of time or differences of opinion. 

Transition period

The final withdrawal agreement must be approved by the EU, the European Parliament and the UK parliament. This must happen no later than 29 March 2019 so that the transition period and the other parts of the agreement can take effect immediately. If the withdrawal agreement is not approved, there will be no transition period.

The transition period is due to run until 31 December 2020. During the transition period, the UK will still have to follow all current EU rules. The UK and the EU will also continue to discuss their future relationship.

Brexit timelineKey dates in the Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU: