The U.K. is set to leave the European Union on January 31, but this will not be the end of the Brexit process.
Both sides of the English Channel will be entering detailed negotiations on their future relationship from then. Failure to reach a second deal by the end of the 2020 would still mean higher costs and barriers when trading goods and services.
CNBC takes a look at the main Brexit dates in the new year.
- Mid-January – European lawmakers meet for the first time in 2020 and are expected to green light the Withdrawal Agreement – the document that outlines how the U.K. should leave the European Union. These 541 pages have been approved in the House of Commons earlier this month and are under further scrutiny in Parliament.
- January 31 – The U.K. is set to officially leave the European Union at 11 p.m. London time. A transition period will then begin from that moment onwards. This means that nothing will change for businesses and citizens. However, the U.K. government will be losing voting rights in Brussels, EU law will still be applicable in U.K. territory and the British government will be able to conclude trade deals with other world countries during this period.
The aim of the transition period is to allow both sides to put together a second deal on their future relationship. This includes new trade arrangements as well as agreements on security and data sharing; aviation standards; supplies of electricity and regulation of medicines.
- February 25 – European ministers are scheduled to meet in Brussels. This could be the moment when they approve a new negotiating mandate for Michel Barnier, who has been heading the Brexit process from the European side since the U.K.’s official request to leave the EU in 2017
This means that talks on their future relationship could start in late February, early March.
- June – A EU-U.K. summit is expected to take place. At this point both sides will have to decide whether they can finalize their new trade relationship by the end of 2020. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that he does not want to prolong the transition and he has legislated against further delays to the Brexit process.
- November – European lawmakers have argued that their meeting in late November is the last possible moment for them to sign off on a second agreement, if the transition period is to end by 2020.
- December 31 – Provided that there has been no extension and a deal has been struck, this day will mark the moment when new arrangements and a new relationship will come to force.
However, senior EU officials have sounded alarm bells, arguing that 11 months is a challenging timeline. In this context, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said earlier this month that the EU will be looking to focus on the most pressing issues first, where there would be no unilateral nor contingency measures to replace current arrangements.