European Commission publishes Communication on preparing for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union

We highlight key points from the European Commission Communication on preparing for the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, published on 19 July 2018.

On 19 July 2018, the European Commission published a Communication on preparing for the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

This was published following the UK’s July 2018 White Paper on the Future Relationship between the UK and the EU.

The headline points:

  • negotiations continue on the Withdrawal Agreement
  • the aim is to agree the Withdrawal Agreement in October 2018, accompanied by a political declaration on the framework for the post-transition period future relationship (after 31 December 2020)
  • however, the European Commission warns that either the Withdrawal Agreement may not be agreed at all, or it may not be ratified in time, meaning there would be no transitional period and EU law will cease to apply to the UK from the end of March 2019 - the “cliff-edge” scenario,
  • therefore, the European Commission advocates preparedness measures or contingency plans to put in place temporary measures until a long-term deal is in place.

It is interesting that the idea of contingency measures is raised as a potential solution if the Withdrawal Agreement is not agreed. Such measures would not necessarily involve legislative actions at the EU level and may fall within the responsibility of Member States. Importantly, it is noted that contingency planning cannot achieve the same results as a withdrawal agreement and would mean there is no formal transition period while the UK negotiates its long-term relationship with the EU.

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.