On 23 January 2020, the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill completed its passage through both Houses of Parliament and received Royal Assent. We look at what it does – and whether it means that Brexit is finally "done".
What does the legislation do?
In short, the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 ("WAA"):
- provides for the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement on the UK side and paves the way for the UK to leave the EU on 31 January 2020, once the Withdrawal Agreement has been ratified by the EU (and signed by the parties)
- gives effect to the transition period, which (unless extended) is due to expire on 31 December 2020. During this time, the UK will remain part of the EU Customs Union and Single Market and the vast majority of EU laws and judgments will continue to apply, despite the UK ceasing to be an EU Member post 31 January 2020.
But the WAA does not mean that Brexit is "done", as the UK still needs to negotiate the terms of its future relationship with the EU. The WAA also allows for some potentially significant changes to the way that the courts will approach EU case law after Brexit (which are discussed further below).