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Brexit: Pending UK vote on withdrawal agreement this week…

Following a request by Prime Minister Theresa May, the European Council (Article 50) agreed on Thursday 21 March to extend the UK’s departure date to 22 May 2019, provided the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the House of Commons (UK) by 29 March 2019 at the latest.

In that scenario, most of the legal effects of Brexit will apply as of 1 January 2021, i.e. after a transition period of 21 months, the terms of which are set out in the draft Withdrawal Agreement.

However, if the Withdrawal Agreement is not approved by the House of Commons this week, the European Council has agreed to an extension until 12 April 2019. In that scenario, the United Kingdom would be expected to indicate a way forward before this date.

While the European Union continues to hope that it will not be the case, this means that if the Withdrawal Agreement is not ratified by Friday 29 March, a “no-deal” scenario may occur on 12 April 2019.  In a “no-deal” scenario, the UK will become a third country without any transitionary arrangements. All EU law will cease to apply to the UK from that moment onwards. There will be no transition period, as provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement.

Since December 2017, the European Commission has been preparing for a “no-deal” scenario.

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