What is Brexit?

31 December: The information on this page has been updated on the basis of the agreement on the new partnership between the European Union and the United Kingdom. The Dutch government is currently analysing the agreement in more detail. This means that the information on this website may change in the period ahead.

‘Brexit’ is the name given to the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union. It is a combination of ‘Britain’ and ‘exit’.

Referendum: majority votes to leave

On 23 June 2016, the UK held a referendum on its membership of the EU. The question facing voters was: ‘Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?’ 51.89% of voters voted to leave the EU. The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020.

Transition period

Up to and including 31 December 2020 a transition period was in place. During that time nothing changed and the UK continued to comply with all EU laws and rules. Negotiations were also held on the new relationship between the UK and the EU during this time.

New relationship

On 24 December 2020 negotiators for the EU and the UK reached a deal on the two parties’ new relationship. The EU and the UK have set out the terms of this deal in three agreements:

  • the Trade and Cooperation Agreement
  • the Information Security Agreement
  • the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.

On 1 January 2021 the rules set out in these agreements will come into force. You can find out what this means for you on this website.