About Brexit

After 47 years of membership, the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, following the June 2016 referendum when 51.9% of electorate voted to leave and 48.1% to remain in the EU.

The negotiations on the terms under which the UK would withdraw from the EU concluded with the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, which entered into force on 31 January 2020.

The UK – EU trading relationship post Brexit was negotiated separately and on 24 December 2020 the UK and EU agreed a Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The TCA provides a framework for cooperation between the UK and EU across a range of areas. The Agreement is overseen by a UK-EU Partnership Council supported by other committees.  There are binding enforcement and dispute settlement mechanisms covering most of the economic partnership, involving an independent arbitration tribunal. There is no role for the Court of Justice of the EU in the governance and dispute settlement provisions. 

Brexit changed the relationship between the UK and EU. The UK has become a third country in relation to the EU and EU law no longer applied to the UK. The options for PIMFA firms to continue cross border trade with the EU post Brexit are limited and mostly dependent on the approaches adopted by national regulators in the EU Member States.

The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland is part of the UK – EU Withdrawal Agreement. The Protocol set out Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit relationship with both the EU and Great Britain. It ensures there are no checks on goods that move between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and the rest of the EU. It does this by applying the EU’s Single Market rules for goods to Northern Ireland, and the EU’s customs rules. This means that goods coming into Northern Ireland from Great Britain must be checked and/or have paperwork to show they comply with the EU regulations.

Difficulties in the operation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland were addressed by the  Government and the European Commission and they reached a political agreement on a new way forward – The Windsor Framework , announced on 27 February 2023. The Framework is based on the continued commitment to the two Agreements that govern the UK – EU relationship – the Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which is the cornerstone of the bilateral relations. The Windsor Framework, and the unilateral commitments from the Government that also accompany it, protect the economic rights of the people of Northern Ireland and respect for the aspirations and identity of all communities, as is the responsibility of the sovereign Government under the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

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