Government Affairs

Brexit Agreement Still Evades EU and UK

While the transition phase of Brexit isn’t slated to occur until March of next year, negotiators for the European Union (EU) and United Kingdom (UK) don’t have much time left to reach an agreement.

Once a deal is reached, it will take several months to initiate. Negotiators initially had given themselves until October, but since have provided more flexibility.

The alternative to a deal is a hard exit in which the UK simply withdrawals from the EU. Both sides are looking to avoid such a scenario. The key sticking points include the border between Northern Ireland as part of the UK and the Republic of Ireland as an EU member. UK negotiators are concerned about treating Northern Ireland differently in regard to customs or regulatory systems with the EU negotiating to keep much of the current systems intact.

How This Impacts Mobility

UK Prime Minister Theresa May and her cabinet are pushing the components of their Cheques plan, which outlines their vision of the post-Brexit relationship with the EU, which was presented in July. However, high-profile members of her party have voiced opposition to the plan which puts the UK negotiating positions in question. To address much of the uncertainty, the EU will likely announce soon a meeting in November as a backstop to the negotiations.

As part of the plan, the UK would end the free movement of people but would create a mobility framework for EU and UK citizens move between the two jurisdictions for travel, studies and work. This would have a direct impact on the ability to transfer employees between the UK and much of the rest of Europe. There are also broader implications regarding Brexit which could result in businesses relocating offices and employees between the UK and EU.

Related: Mobilizing Your Brexit Strategy

Brexit was invoked on 23 June 2016, when a majority of voters in the UK (a margin of 51.89% to 48.1%) opted for the UK to leave the EU. Then-UK Prime Minister Cameron, who advocated for the UK to remain part of the EU, resigned shortly thereafter and Theresa May was selected to replace him. On 29 March 2017, the UK triggered the Article 50 process which outlines the withdrawal of a country from the EU.

While the triggering of Article 50 provides for a two-year withdrawal timeframe of a member state from the EU, the UK and EU have agreed to a transition period. The transition period starts at the end of the 2-year period on 29 March 2019 and ends on 31 December 2020. The two parties are therefore negotiating on both a plan for the transition period as well as the full withdrawal starting in 2021.

Want to discuss Brexit's implications further? Join Tristan and other noted government affairs experts at the 2018 Global Workforce Symposium, where you can take part in a handful of sessions set to elaborate on the upcoming European transition. Register today for this year's Global Workforce Symposium!

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