On October 17, 2019, the Heads of State and Governments of the now 27 Member States of the European Union adopted a new Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (the “Agreement”) and the Political declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom (the “Political Declaration”). Although the Agreement is a legal text that is part of the primary law of the European Union (the “EU”), the Political Declaration is a document of a political nature, which is not binding.
The new Agreement, published in the Official Journal of the European Union on November 12, 2019, is similar to the previous one, dated November 2018. However, to preserve the Good Friday Agreement, it introduces certain features regarding the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
On January 29, 2020, the European Parliament adopted the Agreement, which was previously ratified by the British Parliament arising from the elections held on December 12, 2019.
On January 31, 2020, the Agreement entered into force and the United Kingdom (the “UK”) left the EU. However, a transition period was established, lasting until December 31, 2020. This transition period may be extended for a maximum of two years, provided it is requested before July 1, 2020; also, during this extension, certain conditions will be applicable.
EU law will continue to apply in relation to the U.K during the transition period, with the same effects and conditions as those that apply to all other Member States. During this period, the normative references of EU law to Member States include the U.K. However, the matters expressly referred to in the Agreement fall outside the transitional arrangements, such as those related to the presence of the U.K in EU governance institutions and structures.
The Agreement assumes the complexity of its implementation, as demonstrated by the establishment of a Joint Committee responsible for its implementation and enforcement, several special sectoral committees, and the submission to arbitration of the resolution of disputes between the EU and the U.K.