Brexit: where do we stand?

The United Kingdom (UK) wants to leave the European Union (EU) – a process known as ‘Brexit’. The British government has asked the EU to delay Brexit until 31 January 2020, and the EU has approved this request. The new date for the UK’s departure is 31 January 2020 (midnight, Dutch time). However, the UK may leave earlier if the UK and EU parliaments approve the withdrawal agreement before then.

On 17 October the UK and the EU reached an agreement on the conditions for the Brexit process. This agreement must be approved by the British parliament and the European parliament before it can enter into force.

On 22 October the UK parliament agreed to consider the Brexit legislation. But it decided more time was needed than the UK prime minister had proposed. This meant that withdrawal with an agreement is no longer feasible on the intended Brexit date of 31 October. The Brexit agreement will not take effect before the Brexit legislation has been passed by the UK parliament and the EU parlement.

If no agreement is concluded (‘no deal’ scenario)

There is still a possibility of a ‘no deal’ scenario, if the agreement is not approved by all parties before the deadline (31 January 2020) passes. In that case, both parties may encounter problems, like long queues at ports and aviation delays. With this in mind, the Dutch government is working hard to limit the inconvenience caused by a ‘no deal’ scenario. In the meantime, the business community, public institutions and members of the public need to prepare for every eventuality, including the possibility of a ‘no deal’ scenario.

Transition period (if the agreement is approved)

If the UK parliament and the European parliament vote in favour of the Brexit agreement,  a transition period will follow, which will last until 31 December 2020. During this period, all EU rules and regulations will continue to apply to the UK. Virtually nothing will change for businesses or for the public. This transition period may be extended once by two years, meaning it could remain in place until 31 December 2022.

Read the withdrawal agreement of 17 October in a PDF document on the website of the European Commission.

The agreement covers a range of issues, including:

  • the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British nationals in the EU (for the moment, little – if anything – will change for these people);
  • the amount the UK will contribute to the EU budget (and for how long);
  • the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

You can read more about the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British nationals in the EU in a document published by the European Commission.

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. 

Transitional period for Britons  living in the Netherlands

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 (no deal) 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.

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 phase of the negotiations has been completed.

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