Background information about Brexit:
The Withdrawal Agreement, together with the Political Declaration on the future relationship between the EU and the UK, was politically endorsed in a revised version by the Heads of State and Government of the EU27 on 17 October 2019. The changes to the Agreement as compared to the text endorsed back in November 2018 concern the Northern Ireland Protocol, which ensures that the integrity of the EU single market and the Good Friday Agreement, in particular the continuation of the open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, are maintained. Moreover, amendments were made to the Political Declaration.
If the Agreement is ratified by both parliaments, it will enter into force with a transition period until 31 December 2020, which can be extended once until the end of 2022 at the latest, thus cushioning the impact of Brexit. Although the UK would no longer be a member of the EU or represented in EU institutions during this time, it would remain bound to EU regulations. Future relations between the EU and the UK would be negotiated during the transition period following its withdrawal and enter into force after the end of this period. The UK House of Commons has yet to sign off on the Withdrawal Agreement. The European Parliament will not give its consent until the ratification process in the UK has been completed.
The Member States of the EU27 therefore decided on 28 October 2019 to accept the UK’s request and to grant a further extension. Under these terms, the UK is expected to withdraw from the EU by 31 January 2020. If the ratification process is completed on both sides before the deadline, then the UK will leave the EU on the first day of the following month.
More information on the agreement reached is available here.
Withdrawal without an agreement (“no deal”)
If it is not possible to bring the Withdrawal Agreement into force, the UK’s membership of the EU under Article 50 TEU would end without an agreement. The UK would then be a third country as regards the EU, and the EU acquis would no longer apply to it.
Although it is a clear priority for the German Government that the Agreement enter into force, in the light of the political uncertainties in the UK it cannot be ruled out that the UK will leave the EU without an agreement. The German Government is thus also focusing on this case of an unregulated or disorderly Brexit. It is a matter of great importance to the German Government that the negative impact be cushioned as much as possible for those affected by Brexit during a transition period. The German Government has been working on national preparations for this eventuality. A comprehensive set of regulations for the worst-case scenario has also been adopted at EU level.
All members of the public and companies in Germany affected by Brexit should keep themselves informed about the impacts of Brexit. All of them should prepare thoroughly and in good time for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
The Federal Foreign Office is coordinating the German Government’s preparations
As the lead ministry, the Federal Foreign Office is coordinating preparations for Brexit in Germany, liaising closely with all other federal ministries and the Federal Chancellery. The German Government is prepared for all possible eventualities.
It is liaising closely with the European Commission and the EU27 (the EU Member States excluding the UK) because the measures at EU level and in the Member States must be dovetailed.
The German Government is also in regular contact with the German Bundestag and the Bundesrat. It is communicating extensively with the Länder. To ensure that Brexit planning is coordinated within the German federal system, it is essential to include the Länder and their administrative regions in the preparations.
Furthermore, the German Government maintains close dialogue with civil society, representatives of members of the public affected by Brexit, scientific organisations and members of the business community. It keeps all those affected up to date with progress in the negotiations and possible consequences arising from the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
The German Government’s contingency plan is clearly defined
The German Government has adopted a series of measures for the case of a disorderly Brexit. These measures are clearly defined:
- They have been drawn up as transitional or emergency measures, are of a temporary nature only and are defined as narrowly as possible in terms of their field of application.
- The aim is to cushion undue hardship and in certain narrowly defined cases to protect the principle of good faith.
- As far as possible, they are to deflect disadvantages for German and EU27 nationals and companies.
- The idea for them is to clearly delineate the difference between EU membership and non-membership.
Finally, they are to fundamentally remain unilateral. It is not in the interest of the German Government to conduct negotiations with the UK on individual regulatory areas that would lead to a “Brexit à la carte”