Q&As

In the context of Brexit, what is meant by the ‘transition or implementation period’?

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Published on LexisPSL on 29/01/2020

The following Public Law Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • In the context of Brexit, what is meant by the ‘transition or implementation period’?
  • What is the aim/effect of the implementation period?
  • Is exit day still relevant?
  • What happens to retained EU law during the implementation period?
  • What happens to Brexit SIs during the implementation period?
  • Could the implementation period be extended?
  • Further reading

The term ‘transition or implementation period’ is used in the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (Withdrawal Agreement) to refer to the period during which the transitional arrangements in the Withdrawal Agreement apply.

These transitional arrangements are set out in Part Four of the Withdrawal Agreement and are intended to govern the relationship between the UK and the EU for a specific time-limited period after exit day (11 pm on 31 January 2020). The Withdrawal Agreement refers to this period as the ‘transition period’. The UK government prefers the term ‘implementation period’ and this is reflected in the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 (EU(WA)A 2020), which implements the Withdrawal Agreement in UK law.

Although the UK and the EU prefer to use different terms, they refer to the same period, hence Article 126 of the Withdrawal Agreement refers initially to the ‘transition or implementation period’. This period is set to run from the date the Withdrawal Agreement enters into force (exit day) until 11 pm on 31 December 2020 (IP completion day).

For background reading on the Withdrawal Agreement, see Practice Note: Brexit—introduction to the Withdrawal Agreement.

What is the aim/effect of the implementation period?

The implementation period is effectively a standstill period intended to maintain the legal status quo

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