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EU Negotiating Directives on the transition period

The EU published/updated the set of Supplementary directives for the negotiation of an agreement with the UK setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal from the EU with regard to Transitional Arrangements.

This is also referred to in the UK as the Implementation Period.

In brief, for the duration of the transition period, the EU outlines its requirements as follows:

  • The UK will be treated as an EU member state
  • EU law will apply to the UK
  • The UK will remain bound by the obligations stemming from the agreements concluded by the EU, or by Member States acting on its behalf while the UK should however no longer participate in any bodies set up by those agreements.
  • Require the UK’s continued participation in the Customs Union and the Single Market (with all four freedoms) during the transition.
    • the UK should continue to comply with the Union trade policy.
    • the UK may not become bound by international agreements entered into in its own capacity in the fields of competence of Union law, unless authorised to do so by the Union.
  • The UK will preserve the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the EU
  • The UK will no longer participate in or nominate or elect members of the Union institutions, nor participate in the decision-making or the governance of the Union bodies, offices and agencies.
  • The UK will not attend meetings of committees or Commission experts groups and other similar entities or of the agencies, offices or bodies where Member States are represented except on a case-by-case basis where the presence of the UK is necessary and without voting rights. The Withdrawal Agreement should define the precise conditions and the clear framework under which such exceptional attendance should be allowed.
  • Specific consultations should also be foreseen with regard to the fixing of fishing opportunities (total allowable catches) during the transition period.
  • The transition period should apply as from the date of entry into force of the Withdrawal Agreement and should not last beyond 31 December 2020.

Full details at:

Council (Article 50) negotiating directives on the transition period (pdf)


Press Releases

Brexit: European Commission receives mandate to begin negotiations with the United Kingdom on transitional arrangements


Press statement by Michel Barnier following the General Affairs Council (Article 50) on the adoption of negotiating directives on transitional arrangements

Other Comments



EU ministers, who approved the new negotiating directives at a meeting on Monday of the General Affairs Council, also portrayed the EU terms of the transition as effectively non-negotiable.

Open letter to business on the Implementation Period

David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, Chancellor Philip Hammond, and Greg Clark, Business Secretary have written to businesses setting out the UK’s ambitions for an implementation period following Brexit.

In the joint letter, the three Cabinet Ministers outline the Government’s commitment to providing businesses with the certainty and clarity they need to plan ahead.

Dear business leaders,

The Government is determined to support businesses and the economy, and is committed to implementing the Government’s Industrial Strategy, building a Britain fit for the future. As this new year gets underway, we are also conscious that many businesses are examining the implications of our withdrawal from the EU for themselves and their supply chains. Businesses have been clear that they need time to adjust to the terms of our new relationship with the EU – and are therefore following closely negotiations on the Government’s proposal for a time-limited implementation period.

The purpose of such a period is to give people, businesses, and public services in the UK and across the EU the time they need to put in place the new arrangements that will be required to adjust to our future partnership. This is why, during the implementation period, we are clear that the UK’s and the EU’s access to one another’s markets should continue on current terms, meaning there will only be one set of changes at the end of the implementation period, as we move into our future partnership. The period’s duration will be strictly time-limited, and should be determined simply by how long it will take to make these changes – as the Prime Minister has previously set out, this will be around two years.

We know this proposal has been warmly welcomed by businesses up and down the country, and in the EU, promising the certainty and clarity needed to plan ahead. We are therefore pleased that at the December European Council, EU leaders endorsed this proposal, and agreed guidelines that will enable our teams to discuss and confirm at pace the detailed arrangements, giving them legal form in the Withdrawal Agreement.