Brexit: where do we stand?
The United Kingdom will leave the European Union – a process known as 'Brexit’. The UK and the EU reached an agreement in 2018 on the conditions for this process. However, the UK parliament has not approved this agreement. For this reason, the 27 remaining EU countries and the British government have decided to postpone Brexit until 31 October 2019 at the latest. This date will be moved forward if the UK parliament approves the agreement earlier. This means that the UK will have to take part in European elections between 23 and 26 May. In case the UK does not organise elections for the European Parliament and has not ratified the withdrawal agreement, Brexit will be on 31 may 2019.
The Dutch government is pleased that more time has been found to ensure that Brexit can proceed in an orderly fashion. This way, both companies and members of the public know that nothing will change between now and 31 October because the UK will stay a member of the EU during this period. This means that all EU legislation will continue to apply to the UK.
If no agreement is concluded (‘no deal’ scenario)
There is still a possibility that no agreement will be reached on Brexit. A no-deal Brexit is therefore still possible. This is also the case if the UK does not organise elections for the European Parliament and has not ratified the withdrawal agreement. In that scenario the UK will leave the EU on 31 may 2019 at midnight (23:00 local time). 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 votes in favour of the Brexit agreement before 31 October, the UK will leave the EU on the first day of the next calendar month, and no later than 1 November 2019. This will be followed by a transition period, 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.
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.
Transition 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 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.
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.