The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020, after 47 years of EU membership.
The UK has lost all the rights and benefits it had as an EU Member State and is no longer a part of the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union. It is no longer covered by the EU’s international agreements.
Four treaties govern the relations between the EU and the UK:
- the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, in force since 1 February 2020, ensured that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU happened in an orderly manner, and protects the rights of EU citizens and UK nationals, the EU’s financial interests, and peace and stability on the island of Ireland;
- the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement started to apply provisionally on 1 January 2021, and covers a number of areas of mutual interest for the EU and the UK and consists in a Free Trade Agreement, an ambitious cooperation on economic, social, environmental and fisheries issues, and a close partnership for our citizens’ security, covered by a strong governance chapter with binding enforcement, effective dispute settlement mechanisms and safeguard measures in case obligations are not fulfilled.
- the EU-UK Security of Information Agreement, linked up to the institutional structure of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, and provisionally applicable since 1 January 2021, will allow the EU and the UK to exchange classified information, applying strong guarantees as to the handling and protection of the exchanged information.
- and the EU-UK Agreement on cooperation in the safe and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, also provisionally applicable since 1 January 2021, provides for wide-ranging cooperation on nuclear safety and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, underpinned by assurances that both sides will comply with international non-proliferation obligations and will not lower their current level of nuclear safety standards.
On the occasion of the signature, the Parties made a series of Declarations.
Even with these treaties in place, there are broad and far-reaching consequences for citizens, businesses, public administrations and stakeholders in both the EU and the UK. To mitigate the disruptions, the Commission issued extensive guidance to help all affected stakeholders prepare. The Commission also undertook the necessary steps to adapt the EU’s legal framework to the new situation.