With the whole of Europe at expenses of the outcome, the European Parliament is about to issue its final decision with regards to the wording of the revised UK Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration.
While on 23 January 2020 the EU constitutional affairs committee voted positively and recommended to the European Parliament to approve the EU-UK withdrawal agreement in the plenary vote of 29 January, which will set forth EU’s final decision, the chambers at Westminster keep discussing about the wording of the Agreement.
In the UK, the Agreement has been very controversial concerning EU citizens’ and refugee rights and has been continuously going back and forth between the House of Commons and the Lords. After the massive approval at the chamber of the elected, the Lords agreed upon 5 amendments early last week.
After the withdrawal bill went back to the House of Commons, it was decided that no further changes were to be performed to the text. Therefore, it has been fully accepted by the UK avoiding the internal parliamentary procedure, so-called ping-pong.
On 30 January, the Withdrawal deal was approved by the Council of the EU, after a positive vote in the European Parliament. The deal has been thus fully approved by the EU.
Institutional leave on 31 January 2020
When it comes to the timeline, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU is set for midnight CET on 31 January 2020, however it will be solely a leave in an institutional way of talking. After 31 January 2020, the UK will no longer participate in the sessions at the EU institutions. The elected deputies will hence abandon their seats, but EU law will continue to apply during the transition period in Great Britain.
Therefore, Brexit deal does not have an immediate effect for the subjects of the law. On the contrary, it will either path the way towards an eventually successful trade agreement between the EU and the UK or will build up a kangaroo road towards a fiercely difficult Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and the WTO conditions will apply. That would mean losing the benefits, such as free movement of goods and capitals with a zero or limited taxation.
The transition period
Boris Johnson promised UK citizens that the transition period for the UK to definitively leave the Union would not last more than eleven months. Despite the possibility to extend the transition period for 2 more years, the UK – as it stands today – will be considered as a third country under the Union sight in few months, as from 31 December 2020.
2021 the cornerstone of Brexit
To sum up, by 31 December 2020, if the UK does not ask for extra time, a new trade agreement shall be reached between the EU and UK. Otherwise, the WTO provisions will be applicable as from 1 January 2021.
In this light, please note that the UK formally exiting the EU on 31 January will not affect the commercialization of cosmetic products and CE marked devices during 2020 which will rest unaltered. The deal over the Withdrawal Agreement will affect the odds for reaching a posterior free trade agreement, nonetheless.
Carlos Francisco Marín Barrios
Regulatory Affairs & Quality assurance