The UK formally left the EU on 31 January 2020 and is currently in the transition period provided for in Article 126 of the Withdrawal Agreement. The transition period expires (if no extension is agreed) on 31 December 2020.

Negotiations between the UK and the EU on their future relationship beyond 31 December 2020 started on Monday 2 March 2020. A high-level conference will take place between the EU and the United Kingdom in June to take stock of progress and any extension of the transition period would have to be agreed before 1 July. We recently blogged on the technicalities of an extension.

The plan of negotiating a full post-Brexit trade and partnership agreement in the limited time frame that is available (and with the added pressure of a global pandemic) is ambitious.

Another "no-deal" cliff edge at the end of the year is therefore not unthinkable. Because a "no-trade-deal" scenario at the end of this year would largely mirror what would have happened in a "no-deal-exit" at the end of January, current "no-deal" guidance largely mirrors pre-exit advice.

EU readiness

"Planning for the undesired scenario of no agreement on the future relationship by 31 December 2020", the EU Commission has started updating the 102 existing "no-deal" notices published over the last two years. These updated "preparedness notices" have been re-named "readiness notices" on the Commission's website.

So far, 22 of the 102 original notices have been updated to reflect the fact that the UK has now become a "third country" and to prepare businesses and individuals for the "undesired scenario of no agreement on the future relationship".

So far, we have updated "readiness notices" on:

UK readiness

The UK Government has now withdrawn (and chosen not to update) many of the pre-exit guidance papers "on how to prepare for Brexit if there's no deal" ("technical notices", as they were called).

Some others have been kept and updated, so for example the guidance on trading under WTO rules if there is no UK trade agreement in place after 31 December 2020.

A great number of general and sector specific new guidance documents on the "new rules" that will take effect on 1 January 2021 have been published since 31 January (visit the new dedicated "The transition period" page on the Government's website).

For regular updates, stay tuned to our Brexit Hub and Covid-19 Hub.