Brexit Update

View from the German-British Chamber on the Brexit Situation, with links to key information sources.

Director's Letter: February 2019

Tuesday’s votes in parliament were a small step forward but the political drama is set to continue

There is some hope that the political establishment in the UK may find a solution to the Brexit crisis. Tuesday’s votes in the House of Commons showed that by voting down some of the amendments put forward, a constitutional crisis (parliament seizing power from the government) has been averted for the time being. Forcing the government to renegotiate the border question in Ireland may prove to be a solution as, if reasonably successful, the hard-line Brexiteers can no longer block Theresa May’s deal. This is because they made the border problem the only real stumbling block for passing the withdrawal agreement in parliament...

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Additional Information

  • The Brexit Deal explained
  • EU Exit: Legal position on the Withdrawal Agreement
  • EU Press Release
  • UK Guidance on No-deal Brexit
  • EU Preparedness Notices
  • In Case of a No-Deal: Export Guidance

The Brexit Deal explained

On 29 March 2019 the United Kingdom will leave the European Union – fulfilling the democratic decision taken by the British public.

We have achieved a deal with the EU that delivers on that decision, a deal the nation can unite behind and one that Parliament should back.

It is time to get on with it.

If we back this Brexit Deal, it means:

  • We will control our own borders and end free movement once and for all
  • We will protect jobs with a deal that is good for our economy
  • We will no longer send vast sums of money to the EU so we can spend more on our priorities, like investing in our long term plan for the NHS
  • We will be able to strike free trade deals around the world
  • We will take back control of our laws, ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK
  • We will keep people safe against crime, terrorism and other threats by working closely with European countries
  • And we will protect the integrity of our United Kingdom

However, if we reject this deal, we will go back to square one.
This would mean:

  • Damaging uncertainty which will threaten jobs, investment and the economy
  • More division
  • Less time to focus on the issues that matter here at home, like the NHS and our schools

So this is the choice: Backing the deal in the national interest so we can build a brighter future – or going back to square one by rejecting it.

However you voted, now is the time to come together. It is time to get on with it.

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EU Exit: Legal position on the Withdrawal Agreement


  1. This document describes the overall legal effect of the draft Withdrawal Agreement of 25 November 2018 (‘the Agreement’). It considers each Part of the Agreement, together with the Protocols on Ireland/Northern Ireland, Gibraltar and the UK Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus, and describes the overall legal effect of the provisions.
  2. The Agreement is a treaty which will be binding on the EU1 and the UK under international law. The EU Treaties(2) will cease to apply to the UK from the date that the Agreement enters into force (‘exit day’), at which point the UK’s ongoing legal relationship with the EU will be governed by the terms of the Agreement. The Agreement sets out the arrangements for the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU’s legal framework following a ‘transition (or implementation) period’, and for those purposes provides for the continued application of EU law (Union law) in defined respects.
  3. Since the Agreement provides for the winding-down of Union law in the UK, it makes provision for a role for the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in interpreting Union law to the extent that it is applied by the Agreement. This is important in the interests of the consistent interpretation and application of the Agreement as between the EU and the UK, which in turn provides an assurance for individuals and businesses. The CJEU has a different role in relation to different aspects of the Agreement and has a much more limited role after the end of the implementation period. The detail of this is set out under the relevant sections of the Agreement.
  4. The Agreement will need to be implemented in domestic law through legislation. The EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill will be the primary vehicle for that, the contents of which is outside the scope of this document.

Read: Legal Position on the Withdrawal Agreement

EU Press Release

Brexit: European Commission intensifies preparedness work and outlines contingency action plan in the event of a no deal scenario with the UK

Strasbourg, 13 November 2018

The European Commission has today published detailed information on its ongoing preparedness and contingency work in the event of a no deal scenario in the Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom.

  1. First, the Commission has published a Communication, which outlines a limited number of contingency actions in priority areas that could be implemented if no agreement is reached with the United Kingdom. This follows a first preparedness Communication published on 19 July 2018.
  2. Secondly, the College of Commissioners has adopted two legislative proposals to amend existing EU law in the area of visas and energy efficiency to take account of the UK's withdrawal. These targeted legislative adaptations are necessary, irrespective of the outcome of the withdrawal negotiations.
  3. Thirdly, a notice has been published providing extensive information on the changes that will occur – in the event of no deal – for persons travelling between the EU and the UK, and vice versa, after 29 March 2019, or for businesses providing services in relation to such travel. It includes information on such things as border checks and customs controls, driving licences and pet passports, amongst others.

While the European Commission is working hard for a deal, and continues to put citizens first in the negotiations, the UK's withdrawal will undoubtedly cause disruption – for example in business supply chains – whether or not there is a deal. Contingency measures cannot remedy the full effects of this disruption. In the event of a no deal scenario, these disruptions will be even more significant and the speed of preparations would have to increase significantly. Contingency measures in narrowly defined areas may, exceptionally, be needed in order to protect the interests and the integrity of the EU.

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UK Guidance on No-deal Brexit

UK government's preparations for a no deal scenario

This document puts the government’s technical notices in context, explaining the current progress in negotiations and the unlikely circumstances in which a no deal scenario might materialise.

It also explains the government’s overarching approach to preparing the UK for this outcome in order to minimise disruption and ensure a smooth and orderly exit in all scenarios.

Here you can find the complete details on the UK Government's guidance on a no-deal scenario.

EU Preparedness Notices

On 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom notified the European Council of its intention to leave the European Union. Unless a ratified withdrawal agreement establishes another date or the European Council, in accordance with Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union and in agreement with the United Kingdom, unanimously decides that the Treaties cease to apply at a later date, all Union primary and secondary law will cease to apply to the United Kingdom from 30 March 2019, 00:00h (CET) ('the withdrawal date'). The United Kingdom will then become a third country.

These notices, which aim at preparing citizens and stakeholders for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, set out the consequences in the following policy areas:

  1. Communications Networks, Content and Technology
  2. Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
  3. Energy
  4. Environment
  5. Financial Services and Capital Markets Union
  6. Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
  7. Human Resources
  8. Justice and Consumers
  9. Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
  10. Mobility and Transport
  11. Health and Food Safety
  12. Secretariat-General
  13. Trade/Taxation and Customs Union
  14. Travelling

Here you can access a complete overview of the Preparedness Notices and the therein contained documents.

In Case of a No-Deal: Export Guidance

Preparing for a no deal EU Exit: step-by-step guide to exporting

The UK government is confident of securing an ambitious and comprehensive future partnership with the EU. But as a responsible government we have a duty to prepare for all possible outcomes, including the scenario that no agreement is reached.

If we leave the EU without an agreement on 29 March 2019, UK businesses will have to apply customs, excise and VAT procedures to goods traded with the EU, in the same way that already applies for goods traded outside of the EU. Trading partners in the EU will also have to apply customs, excise and VAT procedures to goods received from the UK, in the same way that they do for goods received from outside of the EU.

We have designed this step-by-step guide to help businesses understand the key actions UK business will need to carry out in order to continue trading with EU businesses in the event that the UK leaves the EU without an agreement. It is based on the existing guidance that already applies to all of the trade that UK businesses carry out with businesses outside of the EU. The guide will be updated as any outstanding details are confirmed – including VAT and excise arrangements – and should be used in partnership with our ‘Starting to export outside of the EU’ guidance on GOV.UK.

The guide is for advice and guidance only and forms part of the government’s ongoing programme of planning for all possible outcomes. The government fully expects to negotiate an agreement with the EU.