The UK Cabinet and EU Council approved the draft Withdrawal Agreement. The Withdrawal Agreement provides for a transition period to the end of 2020 or later.
Two separate votes are required in Parliament under UK law. One is required to approve the agreement under the existing UK Withdrawal Act (the “meaningful” vote). At least one further vote is required to legislate for the EU UK Withdrawal Agreement under UK law. Many more votes may be required to give effect to the arrangements.
The Withdrawal Agreement was rejected three times in the House of Commons. Ultimately, in June 2019, Prime Minister Theresa May resigned, when it became apparent that a fourth attempt to approve the Agreement was set to fail.
Transitional / Implementation Period
The proposed Withdrawal Agreement provides for a transition period to the end of 2020. This can be extended once for a further period. This transition period can be extended by up to 1 or 2 years to be decided by 30 June 2020.
The EU and UK may mutually agree to extend it further. This decision may require unanimity or a qualified majority, in the same manner as the withdrawal Agreement.
Even if parliament does not approve the withdrawal agreement the EU and UK may agree on a slimmed-down withdrawal agreement with a similar transition period arrangement
This could occur, but the position would be very unattractive from the UK’s perspective. It would continue to have observer status only in the European Union institutions so that the UK would have input into rule-making and much other participation
The present proposed transition period coincides with the end of the existing EU 2014 to 2020 budget cycle to which the UK has already committed and which is the subject of payments under the financial settlement. If the transition period was extended further contributions to the EU’s budget would be required.
During the Transition Period
Technically the UK will have ceased to be a member of the European Union as scheduled on 29 March 2019. However until the end of the transition period almost all EU laws in you to apply to the UK as if it was a member of the European Union.
However, the UK will cease to participate in most institutions of the European Union other than in an observer capacity.
It is intended that the new trading agreement an outline of which has been agreed and published will be agreed and finalised in the transition period
EU UK Free Trade Agreement
The declared intention of the EU and UK is to enter a comprehensive free trade agreement within the transition period which would take effect at the end of the transition period now scheduled for 31 December 2020, which may be postponed to a later date, which is contemplated to be up to a further two years.
If the trading agreement is entered within the transition period then its terms will govern the EU UK relationship from the end of the transition period or the commencement date provided for under it.