Brexit: where do we stand?

The United Kingdom will leave the European Union – a process known as 'Brexit’. The UK and the EU have negotiated the terms of Brexit, but the agreement has not been approved on all sides. After Brexit is a fact, the UK and the EU will continue to discuss their future relationship. 

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

On 13 November 2018 the EU and UK reached an agreement on Brexit. It was endorsed by the UK government and the 27 remaining EU member states.

Britain’s parliament voted against the agreement on 15 January 2019 and again on 12 March. The Dutch government respects but also regrets this outcome, as it is important for all concerned to quickly get clarity about the Brexit arrangements. On 14 March, the UK parliament voted to ask the EU to postpone the date on which it leaves the EU. On 20 March, British Prime Minister Theresa May asked the EU to postpone Brexit until 30 June 2019. 

Postponement if the agreement is approved

On 21 March the heads of state and government of the 27 remaining EU member states agreed to postpone Brexit until 22 May 2019 on the strict condition that the UK parliament approves the withdrawal agreement on 29 March 2019 at the latest. For those 27 countries, 22 May is an important date because European Parliament elections begin the following day. The UK government has said that it does not want to take part in those elections.

Postponement also if the agreement is not approved

The heads of state and government of the 27 remaining EU member states have also decided to postpone Brexit if there is no agreement. If the UK parliament does not approve the withdrawal agreement on 29 March at the latest, Brexit will be delayed until 12 April 2019. The UK will then have until 12 April to:

  • approve the agreement after all, or
  • decide to leave without an agreement, or
  • ask for another – longer – postponement, or
  • cancel Brexit.

So a ‘no deal’ scenario is still possible as long as the UK parliament has not approved the withdrawal agreement. It therefore remains important that the government, the business community and the public prepare for every eventuality, including the real possibility of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

In addition to the UK parliament, the European Parliament also needs to approve the agreement. Only then can the EU and the UK implement the terms of the agreement. 

The draft agreement covers a range of issues, including:

New relationship

Only after Brexit can the EU and the UK start discussing the details of their new relationship. There will be more clarity on the new relationship between the EU and the UK only once this next phase of the negotiations has been completed. Under the deal reached in November 2018, the EU and the UK would have at least until 31 December 2020 to do this, as the agreement contains a transition period in which all EU laws and rules would continue to apply to the UK. This transition period may be extended once by two years, meaning it could remain in place until 31 December 2022.

No deal

Since the provisional agreement on Brexit has been rejected by the UK parliament, the Netherlands and the EU are still preparing for various scenarios. One of those scenarios is that no agreement is reached. In that case, both parties may encounter problems like long queues at ports and aviation issues.

In a ‘no deal’ scenario there will be no arrangements concerning the rights of Dutch nationals and other EU citizens in the UK, or of British nationals in the EU, and there will be no transition period. That is why the EU and the Netherlands want the parties to reach an agreement as quickly as possible.

On 7 January 2019 the Dutch government announced a 15-month transition period for British nationals in the Netherlands in the event that the UK leaves the EU without an agreement in place. During this transition period, nothing will change for British nationals living in the Netherlands. They will be given enough time to arrange a residence permit.