UK withdrawal from the EU

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The UK's exit from the EU , often referred to as Brexit , took place on January 31, 2020 and is governed by the Withdrawal Agreement signed on January 24, 2020. In the transition phase agreed there until December 31, 2020, the long-term relations between the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) were renegotiated until December 24, 2020 . As a result, the United Kingdom is no longer part of the EU internal market and the customs union since January 1, 2021 .

The exit process was initiated by the EU membership referendum on June 23, 2016 (usually called the Brexit referendum), in which 51.89% of the participants voted in favor of leaving the EU. On March 29, 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May initiated the withdrawal from the EU and EURATOM in accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union by means of a written notification to the European Council , which began a two-year negotiation phase that began in Was extended three times in 2019.

In January 2017, May presented a twelve-point plan for a Brexit without EU partial membership or associated membership in a keynote address; the UK should therefore leave the European single market, the customs union and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice . On November 14, 2018, the EU and the UK government agreed on a corresponding withdrawal agreement.

The vote on the exit agreement , scheduled for December 11, 2018 in the British House of Commons , was postponed due to internal political resistance, in particular the so-called " backstop " clause, which was supposed to prevent a hard border between Ireland and the United Kingdom , and further renegotiations took place . In three votes between January and March 2019, the House of Commons voted against the agreement with a large majority. In order to prevent an unregulated exit on March 29, 2019, the European Council and the British government twice agreed to postpone the exit date by October 31, 2019 at the latest. Therefore, the UK had to take part in the European elections on May 23 , in which the Brexit party, founded in 2019, immediately received 30.5% of the votes and won the election with 29 seats in the EU Parliament .

In July 2019 Theresa May resigned from office and Boris Johnson became her successor. The House of Commons passed a law at the beginning of September that obliged the Prime Minister to apply to the EU for a further extension if no exit agreement had been ratified by October 19. On September 10th, Johnson adjourned Parliament for an unusually long period of time with a prorogation that was declared unlawful by the Supreme Court on September 24th . On October 17th, the British government and the EU agreed on a renegotiated agreement that no longer provides for a backstop. Since the House of Commons postponed the vote on October 19, Johnson was forced to request another postponement of the exit date to January 31, 2020. The European Council granted the request on October 28th.

Thereupon the lower house decided an early election for December 12th. In this case, the Conservative Party received an absolute majority of the lower house seats. In January 2020, the British Parliament and the EU Parliament approved the Brexit Agreement, with which the UK left the European Union and EURATOM on January 31, 2020 at 11 p.m. UTC (12 p.m. CET ), but part of the EU until the end of 2020 EU internal market and the customs union remained.

Brexit is predicted to hit the UK economy in particular; Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this has already been in a recession since March 2020 . Significant effects on the EU are also expected, especially on Germany and other EU countries that are closely linked to the UK.

With the trade and cooperation agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom that was signed on December 30, 2020 and provisionally entered into force on January 1, 2021 , the legal aspects of leaving the EU have now been clarified for the time being.

Term Brexit

As an abbreviation for the emergence of the United Kingdom from the European Union is the world's art and portmanteau United Kingdom and Gibraltar European Union membership referendum established - a fusion of British and exit ( German  exit ). The Duden classifies the term Brexit as political jargon . After appearance of the word Grexit for the possible exit of Greece from the euro - currency area of the 21st century in the first decade a number of similar terms was formed, primarily through print media .

The first use of the term Brexit can be traced back to May 15, 2012. The made-up word Brixit appeared as a variation in June 2012 .

Brexit advocates are occasionally called Brexiteers or Leavers , Brexit opponents Remainers and pejorative Remoaners ( suitcase word from remainer ' Verbleiber ' and moan 'whine') or Bremoaners .

timeline

2016

  • February 20: British Prime Minister David Cameron announces the timing of the referendum on leaving the EU.
  • April 13: An electoral commission recognizes two associations as campaign organizations, namely Vote Leave and Britain Stronger in Europe .
  • June 23: In the referendum on the United Kingdom's exit from the EU, just under 52% of voters decide to leave.
  • June 24: Prime Minister Cameron announces his resignation in October 2016.
  • July 13: The original Brexit opponent Theresa May is appointed as the new Prime Minister. Brexit advocate David Davis becomes Minister for Leaving the European Union .

2017

  • February 1: The House of Commons authorizes the British government by law to submit an application to leave the EU.
  • March 1: The British House of Lords proposes an amendment to the Brexit Act.
  • March 13: The House of Commons denied the amendment to the Brexit Act. The House of Lords accepts the original Brexit law.
  • March 29: The UK's official application to withdraw from the EU under Article 50. The UK and the EU have until March 29, 2019 to negotiate the terms of the withdrawal.
  • April 18: Early election for the lower house is announced.
  • June 8th: The House of Commons is re-elected.
  • December 15: The Council of the European Union notes that the necessary progress has been made on the issues of the exit amount , citizens abroad and the Irish border , and decides to enter the second round of negotiations.

2018

  • June 20: The Withdrawal Act comes into force. It ensures that after the exit, the European rules become British rules so that the UK can amend them.
  • July 9: Dominic Raab becomes Minister for Leaving the European Union .
  • November 13: The European Commission publishes an emergency plan in the event of the exit without an agreement.
  • November 14: The European Commission and the British government present the draft withdrawal agreement.
  • November 16: Stephen Barclay becomes Minister for Leaving the European Union .
  • November 25: The European Council approves the text of the Withdrawal Agreement as the outcome of the negotiations, which will first be submitted to the UK Parliament and, once it has approved, the European Parliament for a vote.
  • December 10: The British government cancels the vote on the agreement in the House of Commons planned for December 11, as May fears defeat. She subsequently tried in vain to obtain further concessions from the EU.

2019

  • January 15: The House of Commons decides against the withdrawal agreement (432: 202 votes).
  • March 12: The House of Commons decides again against the exit agreement (391: 242 votes).
  • March 13: The House of Commons rejects the UK's exit from the EU without an agreement (321: 278 votes) after a previously adopted amendment (312: 308 votes) removed the time limit from the main motion.
  • March 14: The House of Commons rejects a second referendum on remaining in the EU (85: 334 votes). Furthermore, the House of Commons refuses to allow parliament to set the parliamentary agenda instead of the government (312: 314 votes). A motion by the government to be mandated to negotiate with the EU to postpone the exit date by at least three months is accepted (412: 202 votes).
  • 20./21. March: Prime Minister May asks the European Union to postpone Brexit until June 30, 2019 and agrees with the European Council on a postponement until at least April 12.
  • March 29: The House of Commons decides against the adoption of the withdrawal modalities of the Withdrawal Agreement (344: 286 votes).
  • April 5: Prime Minister May again asks the European Union to postpone Brexit until June 30, 2019.
  • April 10: The EU-27 summit with Prime Minister May in Brussels approves the proposal to give the UK until October 31, 2019 to accept the negotiated treaty. Otherwise, the UK will leave the EU in an unregulated manner on October 31.
  • April 11: The United Kingdom announces that it will take part in the European Parliament elections on May 26, 2019.
  • May 24th: Prime Minister May announces her resignation as head of the Conservative Party on June 7th.
  • July 24: Boris Johnson becomes new Prime Minister and names his new cabinet . He promises Brexit for October 31st - under all circumstances (“do or die”).
  • August 28: Prime Minister Johnson announces an interruption of the current session of Parliament (so-called prorogation ) from September 10th to October 10th.
  • September 3: The British government loses its majority in the lower house during the current parliamentary session due to the fact that Tory MP Phillip Lee changes to the pro-European liberals .
  • September 9: Parliament passed a law with 311: 302 votes, which obliges the British government to request the EU to postpone the exit beyond October 31, provided that there is no exit agreement with the EU by October 19 is adopted.
  • September 9: At the end of the day, the current session of Parliament is adjourned. The next scheduled day of the meeting is October 14th.
  • September 24: The UK Supreme Court declares the suspension of the session of Parliament unconstitutional and therefore null and void . John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, then announced that Parliament would resume its work on September 25th.
  • October 17: The European Council (all heads of government including the United Kingdom) agrees on changes to the current Withdrawal Agreement from November 2018. This now provides, among other things, instead of the backstop, a regulation is proposed in which goods destined for the EU are already cleared and checked in Great Britain .
  • October 19: The House of Commons postponed the vote on the new agreement, forcing Johnson to request the European Council to postpone the Brexit date again. Johnson sends a request for extension to Donald Tusk and another letter asking that the extension be refused.
  • October 21: The UK government publishes draft Brexit legislation.
  • October 22: The House of Commons votes for a second reading on the Brexit Act (329: 299 votes). However, the House of Commons voted against the legislative timetable proposed by the government (322: 308 votes).
  • October 28: The European Council agrees to postpone the withdrawal date to January 31, 2020, with the option of an earlier withdrawal in the event that the Withdrawal Treaty is ratified earlier. The formal decision is available the next day.
  • October 29th: The House of Commons resolves a new election for December 12th with 438: 20 votes.
  • December 12: In the British House of Commons election , Prime Minister Johnson's Conservative Party wins an absolute majority of the seats.
  • December 20: The House of Commons adopts the legislative proposal to leave the EU with 353: 243 votes. All 352 Conservative Party MPs and Labor MP Emma Lewell-Buck are voting in favor of the bill.

2020

  • January 22nd: The British exit law proposed by Boris Johnson clears the final hurdle in the British Parliament with approval in the House of Lords . The House of Lords had previously tried to introduce several changes, but these were rejected by the House of Commons. With the Royal Assent the next day, the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 becomes legally binding.
  • January 24: The exit agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom is signed first in Brussels by Ursula von der Leyen (President of the European Commission) and Charles Michel (President of the European Council), then by Prime Minister Boris Johnson at his official seat in London.
  • January 29: The EU Parliament ratified the Brexit agreement with 621: 49 votes and passed the resigning member by singing Auld Lang Syne .
  • January 31: At 23:00 UTC (24:00 CET) the Withdrawal Agreement will take effect. The UK is now considered a third country for the EU .
  • October: The House of Lords ( House of Lords ) has rejected the controversial Single Market Act ( Internal Market Bill ab) with which the Johnson government wants to overturn the applicable United Kingdom and Gibraltar European Union membership referendum deal.
  • November 7: Ursula von der Leyen and Johnson negotiate a post-Brexit trade agreement.
  • November 9: The British House of Lords again rejects the controversial Single Market Act with 433 votes to 165.
  • December 24th: An agreement in principle on a trade and cooperation agreement was reached. The governments of all EU member states and in some cases their parliaments, the European and British parliaments have yet to approve the agreement.
  • December 30: EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen and Council President Charles Michel sign the trade and cooperation agreement. The British House of Commons also voted for the agreement. The state parliaments of Scotland and Northern Ireland voted against the agreement. The state parliament of Wales voted in favor of the agreement. These decisions by the state parliaments were only symbolic.
  • December 31: Queen Elizabeth II enacts the law applying the agreement with the EU. The governments of Great Britain and Spain decide that the British overseas territory Gibraltar will join the Schengen area .

2021

  • January 1: The transition phase that has been in effect since February 1, 2020 ends. The UK has left the EU internal market and customs union . The trade and cooperation agreement is provisionally applied. Gibraltar joins the Schengen area .
  • first quarter of 2021: the volume of trade between Great Britain and the EU countries is 23.1 percent lower than in the first quarter of 2018 (which is considered to be the last stable trading period before Brexit). Trade with non-European countries fell by 0.8 percent in the same period.
  • April 27: The EU Parliament approves the agreement.
  • May 19: talks between the UK and US governments on trade agreements stall.

EU membership referendum 2016

background

David Cameron, Prime Minister 2010-2016

Conservative David Cameron has served as moderately Eurosceptic prime minister since the 2010 general election . On January 23, 2013, he announced that if he was re-elected in May 2015 , he would have a referendum held in 2017 at the latest on whether the United Kingdom would remain a member of the EU . Before that, he wanted to negotiate with the European partners in order to reform the EU, particularly with regard to immigration and state sovereignty. According to Cameron's announcements, support for the EU increased in the polls until around mid-2015.

Cameron came under pressure due to the electoral successes of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), which demanded to leave the EU and which mainly drew its supporters from the Conservative Party's electoral potential. In the 2014 European elections , UKIP became the strongest force in the United Kingdom for the first time with 27.5%. In the general election in 2015 , it won almost four million votes (12.6%), but due to the British electoral system this resulted in only one of 650 lower house seats. The Conservative Party won an absolute majority of the seats.

The EU referendum bill, introduced by Cameron after the general election, was passed in December 2015.

Reform negotiations with the EU

The final phase of negotiations between the UK and the EU began at the end of January 2016. An agreement was reached at the final summit on February 18 and 19 in Brussels. The central reform demand to limit immigration was resolved in such a way that every EU country could apply for an “immigration emergency”; if approved by the EU Commission, the EU country concerned may pay reduced social benefits to newly arriving EU foreigners for four years. On February 20, Cameron announced June 23, 2016 as the date for the referendum in London.

Discussion and polls before the referendum

Boris Johnson , Secretary of State 2017-2018

For the opponents of British EU membership, the reforms did not go far enough. On February 21, 2016, London's former Mayor Boris Johnson (Conservative Party) announced that he would join the campaign to leave the EU after making a strong case for the EU two days earlier. His slogan on his campaign bus was the controversial claim that the UK was transferring £ 350 million a week to the EU that would be better invested in the UK health service. In fact, the estimated amount being transferred was £ 248 million a week. The representatives of the Remain campaign (Prime Minister Cameron and his Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne ) pointed out the importance of the EU single market for the British economy.

Immigration became a major issue in the political dispute. Brexit advocates argued that the UK must regain control of its borders in order to curb immigration. Johnson and his colleagues emphasized that immigration must be brought under control along the lines of the Australian model . The immigration compromise with the EU, on the other hand, was hardly used as an argument by the Remain campaign.

Development of opinion polls from the end of 2012 to mid-2016:
  • for remaining in the EU
  • for leaving the EU
  • undecided
  • The British businessman Arron Banks supported the British independence party UKIP under its chairman Nigel Farage and the Brexit campaign Leave.EU, which he co-founded, with a total of twelve million pounds, the highest known political donation in the United Kingdom to date.

    In most of the polls since mid-2014, the majority of voters voted for their country to remain in the EU. In the last few months before the referendum on June 23, 2016, the camps of Brexit supporters and Brexit opponents were almost equally strong in surveys. Since October 2015, the Brexit opponents have always been ahead by a few percentage points, only on May 12, 2016 and between June 12 and June 17, 2016 did the Brexit supporters lead by a narrow majority.

    After the murder of Labor MP Jo Cox by a fanatical nationalist on June 16, 2016, a week before the referendum, political sentiment seemed to be turning against Brexit supporters. On the day before the referendum, the bookmakers at the betting shops estimated the probability of a Brexit at around 25%. The outcome of the referendum on June 23 came as a surprise to many.

    Decision to leave

    In the EU membership referendum on June 23, 2016 , the turnout was 72.2%. 51.89% of the electorate voted for the UK to leave the EU and 48.11% to stay. In EU-friendly Scotland and among the EU-friendly younger population, voter turnout was above average. The referendum was a purely consultative referendum and was neither binding on the government nor on parliament.

    Political developments after the referendum

    Resignations from Cameron, Hill, Farage

    After the result of the referendum was announced, David Cameron announced on June 24, 2016 that he would step down by October 2016. He will explain the decision of the British people to the European Council on June 28, 2016, but leave the exit request and the exit negotiations to his successor.

    The European Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union Lord Jonathan Hill announced his resignation on June 25th.

    Nigel Farage resigned as UKIP party leader on July 4, 2016 . He stated that with the UK leaving, he had achieved his political goal. However, he will occasionally comment on the exit negotiations in the EU Parliament.

    Power struggle in the Labor Party

    Jeremy Corbyn (2017)

    The leader of the Labor Party , Jeremy Corbyn , was accused by party members of having only half-heartedly campaigned for the "Remain" campaign. For example, on June 11, 2016, he stated that his approval of the EU was 70% or slightly higher. The Labor MPs distrusted him on June 28th by 172 to 40 votes, but only one party congress could decide on the replacement. Several members of the shadow cabinet resigned. The Labor party base confirmed Corbyn as party leader on September 24 with a share of the vote of almost 62% and a turnout of almost 78%.

    After Corbyn had previously taken the line that one had to accept the referendum of the citizens on Brexit, he showed himself to be open to a new vote on Brexit at a party congress in September 2018, since he "had been elected as chairman for more internal parties Implementing democracy in Labor ”. In this respect, he wants to "bow to the party's decisions" in a vote for a second Brexit referendum. The majority of the delegates voted for a second referendum on Brexit.

    Theresa May as the new Prime Minister

    Theresa May, Prime Minister 2016–2019

    After the announcement of David Cameron's resignation, the party began applying for his successor as party chairman and prime minister. In the selection process, the promising candidates Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Andrea Leadsom were eliminated, and Theresa May became party leader on July 11th.

    On July 13, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Theresa May Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. May filled 15 of 18 ministerial posts and included both Brexit supporters and previous Brexit opponents in her cabinet . As prominent EU skeptics, Boris Johnson became Foreign Minister, David Davis Minister for Leaving the European Union and Liam Fox Minister for International Trade. On July 20, May informed EU Council President Donald Tusk that the United Kingdom would waive its regular EU Council Presidency in the second half of 2017.

    Reactions in Scotland

    The Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon ( Scottish National Party , SNP) said after the announcement of the result that a new referendum in Scotland on the whereabouts in the UK was "very likely". The result achieved in Scotland of around 60% per EU stay shows that the Scottish people see their future as part of the European Union.

    On June 25, 2016, the Scottish Government began preparatory work for a possible second independence referendum. However, votes on Scottish independence are subject to UK legislature. The legality of a unilateral declaration of independence for Scotland was already controversial in the 2014 referendum . At that time, Parliament in London authorized the Scottish government to hold such a referendum as an exception.

    On October 20, 2016, the Scottish Government published a bill for a second independence referendum; on March 13, 2017, Nicola Sturgeon announced a bill for a second independence referendum in the Scottish Parliament. On March 28, 2017, the Scottish Parliament authorized Nicola Sturgeon to request a new referendum in London, which it postponed after the SNP had lost 21 of its 56 seats in the early election to the House of Commons , and polls in Scotland regularly had a majority against one provided second independence referendum.

    Reactions in the EU

    Nigel Farage (UKIP)

    The European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker thanked on June 28, David Cameron for acquired European merits and reached the present MEP Nigel Farage, a prominent representative of the British "Leave" campaign, by asking: "Why are you here? ”At the meeting the following day, the United Kingdom was absent; the Scottish Prime Minister made a courtesy call. It was adjourned until September without any concrete resolution.

    Although Juncker, the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz and the German Federal Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble had spoken out in favor of deeper European integration , the referendum result initially strengthened the opponents of closer cooperation. Overlooking the referendum protested Jeroen Dijsselbloem , President of the Euro Group , before "new bold steps for further integration."

    On the sidelines of the first EU conference without the UK on September 17, 2016 in Bratislava, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico threatened to veto any agreement between the EU and the UK, if not all EU citizens who emigrated there as citizens of equal value be acknowledged.

    Juncker and the French President François Hollande advocated “toughness” in the Brexit negotiations in October 2016, there had to be a “threat, a risk, a price” in order to deter imitators in the remaining EU and thus prevent “the end of the EU”. Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on October 5, 2016 that the 27 remaining EU countries would form a "united front" and that the UK should expect to be treated in the same way as Greece .

    Five days after the referendum, Chancellor Angela Merkel supported the EU negotiating position in front of the German Bundestag: the United Kingdom should only remain in the internal market if it accepts the free movement of people for EU citizens. It affirmed the connection between the free movement of goods, capital, services and people. The CDU foreign expert Norbert Röttgen promoted a new kind of economic partnership between the European Union and the United Kingdom after Brexit.

    Markus Kerber , General Manager of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), spoke out against "punitive actions". In contrast, Angela Merkel pointed out in a speech to the BDI that defending the free movement of workers in the EU has priority over German industrial interests. In mid-November 2016, she indicated a compromise on the immigration issue in the Brexit negotiations, according to which EU states would have to protect their social systems. In October, Labor Minister Andrea Nahles unilaterally made it difficult for EU foreigners to immigrate to the German social system, analogous to the failed EU immigration compromise with David Cameron.

    General election 2017

    On April 18, 2017, Prime Minister May announced the early election of the House of Commons for June 8, 2017 in order to overcome internal differences in parliament before the Brexit negotiations. Despite the conservatives' clear lead at times in the polls, the election resulted in a hung parliament in which no party received an absolute majority of the seats, with UKIP and the SNP losing votes. The Conservatives lost seats despite strong votes, so that May formed a minority government supported by the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party ( confidence-and-supply agreement ), but without entering into a formal coalition.

    Backlash after the referendum

    Survey

    In an opinion poll on October 21, 2019, when asked "Do you believe in retrospect that it was right or wrong that the British voted for Brexit?", 41% answered "right" and 47% " not correct"; on August 2, 2016 the result was: 46% “right” and 42% “wrong”.

    The surveys on possible voting behavior in a second referendum between January 2018 and October 2019 showed, on average, a slight lead of supporters of remaining in the EU of around 5% over supporters of leaving the EU (average result from six polls).

    The change in sentiment since the referendum was explained by several factors. Among those respondents who did not vote in the 2016 referendum (for example because they were too young), but who would vote in a second referendum, were those in favor of staying in the EU with a ratio of more than 2.5: 1 in the majority. Among those who voted for Brexit in 2016, a slightly larger proportion cast doubt on their opinion at the time than among those who voted to remain in the EU. A key factor here is that respondents tend to be more pessimistic about the economic consequences of leaving the EU over time.

    Petitions for a second referendum in 2016 and 2019

    Four weeks before the referendum, a petition had been launched on the Internet calling for the referendum to be repeated in the event that the turnout was less than 75% and neither of the two voting options achieved 60% approval. The referendum result met both conditions.

    By July 10, more than four million Internet users voted for the petition, whereupon a three-hour parliamentary debate took place in Westminster Hall on September 5, but it had no consequences. On July 9, the Foreign Ministry announced that the government had rejected the petition; the result of the referendum on June 23 must be respected and implemented.

    By 2018, former Vice Prime Minister Nick Clegg , former Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Labor Party called for a second referendum. In two test votes in the House of Commons on March 27, 2019 and April 1, 2019, the proposal to hold a second referendum was rejected by a majority of 27 votes and 12 votes respectively ( see below ).

    On February 20, 2019, the British Margaret Georgiadou started a petition calling for the withdrawal process to be stopped. The petition was supposed to show that Brexit - contrary to what the government has repeatedly claimed - is no longer the will of the British people. This petition was supported by more than 6.1 million signatories, making it the largest petition ever submitted to the UK Parliament.

    On March 26, 2019, the government emphasized that it wanted to leave the EU with parliamentary support despite the petition.

    On April 1, there was an unconsequential debate in Westminster Hall on this and two other petitions related to Brexit, which had the support of more than 180,000 and 170,000 signatories, respectively. A similar debate had already taken place in January 2019 after a petition calling for people to leave the EU without a withdrawal treaty received more than 130,000 signatures.

    Influence on the political climate

    Protesters on October 20, 2018

    During the Brexit discussion, there was an increase in violence against parliamentarians in Great Britain, on the one hand among Brexit supporters and, to a somewhat lesser extent, among Brexit opponents. Some MPs stopped running for fear of attacks against themselves and their families.

    On October 20, 2018, there was a large demonstration in London , at which over 600,000 people demonstrated for a second referendum on Brexit.

    On March 23, 2019, a second large-scale demonstration took place in London under the motto Put it to the people . It was estimated to be one of the largest demonstrations to ever take place in the UK, with more than a million participants.

    Immediate economic consequences after the referendum

    Foreign exchange market and monetary policy

    Desc-i.svg
    Change in the value of the pound sterling against the euro, red: referendum; high value = low pound exchange rate
    (source: ECB)

    On June 25th and again on July 7th, the bilateral exchange rate of the pound (GBP) to the US dollar fell to its weakest level since 1985. Between May 2015 and May 2016, the GBP lost almost 8% against the euro. Shortly before the referendum, many Britons exchanged their GBP balances for currencies that are considered safe havens . In addition to the dollar, the yen and the Swiss franc , gold recorded high gains. The stock indices fell 10% in Frankfurt , 8% in Tokyo , 5% in London and 2% in New York .

    This price development is favorable for the UK tourism sector as well as those companies that produce primarily for export. However, all export-oriented British companies have to compensate for rising production costs through higher sales , provided they purchase foreign semi-finished products or capital goods in exchange for a foreign currency.

    On June 27, 2016, the major rating agencies Standard & Poor’s (S&P) and Fitch Ratings downgraded the UK's creditworthiness to "AA".

    Because of the economic slowdown expected after the vote, the Bank of England cut the key interest rate from 0.5% to 0.25% in early August 2016 and announced the sale of 60 billion pounds for securities in order to depress the pound rate. When the pound exchange rate reached 7-year lows against the euro and 35-year lows against the US dollar by October 2016, Theresa May's government criticized these decisions. However, the bank's governor, Mark Carney, pointed to his constitutional independence and insisted that the pound should continue to be kept low in the interests of the UK economy, even at the expense of higher inflation, which would particularly affect food.

    In October 2016, Standard & Poor's warned that the pound could lose its reserve currency status for the first time since the early 18th century; this could happen if the pound's share of the central banks ' currency portfolios , which stood at 4.9% at the end of 2015, falls below 3%.

    Investments

    A study by the Institut der Deutschen Wirtschaft in July 2018 came to the conclusion that foreign investments in the United Kingdom have declined by 80% since the referendum: after 66 billion euros annually between 2010 and 2016, only 15 billion euros were invested in 2017, while in many foreign investments in other European countries increased significantly in the same year.

    On August 13, 2016, the UK government announced that it did not want to stop EU co-financed projects in the UK, but rather to cover the financing gap from its own resources, provided that the financing commitment was made before the Autumn Statements 2016 (usually in November).

    Migration and Naturalization Issues

    The number of EU citizens who immigrated to the UK fell from October 2017 to September 2018 to the lowest level in almost ten years. In contrast, net immigration from non-EU countries peaked at 261,000 during this period.

    After the referendum, many Britons applied for another citizenship: the number of applications for naturalization rose in Germany, Ireland, Portugal and Sweden, among others. In 2017, around 14,900 UK citizens were naturalized in another EU country (127% more than in the previous year), including 7,493 in Germany.

    Exit procedure under Prime Minister Theresa May (2016-2018)

    Legal framework for the exit procedure

    Timeline for the exit process, as of December 2018

    The negotiations run on two levels: On the one hand, Art. 50 TEU triggers the co-decision procedure until a withdrawal agreement is concluded. This falls under the sole sovereignty of the EU, so that a qualified majority in the Council according to Art. 238 (2) TFEU ​​is sufficient on the proposal to be negotiated and no unanimity has to be achieved among the member states. That means

    • 72% of the 27 states (EU countries except UK, according to Art. 50 Para. 4 TEU not entitled to vote) - d. H. a total of 20 countries agree;
    • these countries must also represent at least 65% of the total population of the Union excluding the United Kingdom.

    Art. 50 para. 2 TEU stipulates that the EU Parliament must approve the withdrawal agreement. The WithdrawalAgreementaccording to Art. 218 (3) TFEU ​​is thusequatedwith the other fundamental agreements in Art. 218 (6a) TFEU. A mere hearing is not enough.

    At the same time or afterwards, the EU and the United Kingdom are negotiating the so-called economic agreement, which has to regulate future relations between the EU and the UK outside of the contractual matters. This is a mixed agreement : According to the regular decision-making procedure for international agreements at EU level in accordance with Article 218 TFEU, following the approval of Parliament in accordance with Article 218 (8) TFEU, the Council must also agree unanimously; then all EU member states must agree to the areas that do not fall under EU sovereignty. Such an agreement must go through the ratification process in all 28 countries and, if provided for by the constitutions of the member states, also be adopted by the national parliaments.

    The following applies to the exit negotiations: They end when an exit agreement has been agreed or automatically after two years at the latest, regardless of the status of the negotiations. However, the exiting country and the EU can jointly extend the negotiation period.

    Negotiating positions

    British positions

    In the negotiations with the EU, the British rejection of the free movement of persons ( European free movement , including free movement of workers ) as one of the four fundamental freedoms of the EU is a point of contention. There are transitional arrangements for British citizens who are legally residing in other EU countries at the time of leaving the EU and for EU citizens who are legally residing in the United Kingdom at the time of leaving the EU.

    In November 2016, Prime Minister Theresa May proposed that the EU states mutually guarantee the rights of residence of 3.3 million EU migrants in Britain and the rights of residence of 1.2 million British migrants in continental Europe in order to exclude this issue from the Brexit negotiations. As Home Secretary May had set the goal of limiting the number of immigrants to the UK to 100,000 a year, regardless of their origin.

    At the Conservative Party Conference in October 2016, Prime Minister Theresa May formulated the goal of ending EU jurisdiction and the free movement of people from the EU as her priorities. She wanted “British companies to negotiate the maximum freedom to do business with and in the internal market - and in return to offer European companies the same rights here”, but not if this would require the sovereignty of the United Kingdom as a negotiating point.

    In January 2017, May presented a twelve-point plan in a keynote address, which, according to the interpretation of the media in German-speaking countries, provided for a “hard Brexit”. H. no EU sub-membership or UK associate membership. The Prime Minister predicted that the UK would leave the European single market , customs union and the European Court of Justice and that it would negotiate with the EU on drafting follow-up treaties to replace the unwanted EU rules. The British Parliament will vote on the outcome of the exit negotiations , albeit without having a right of veto on this issue .

    In the first time after the membership referendum, the British position fluctuated between the positions of either continuing to belong to the common market of the EU or of forming a free trade area with the EU. In both cases, the rest of the EU insisted on British consideration, including on granting freedom of movement to jobseeking citizens of EU member states.

    In 2020, under the Boris Johnson administration , it also became clear that the British side wanted to reject any agreement with the EU that is linked to remaining in the European Convention on Human Rights and thus to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights , which itself does not belong to the EU. In this way, the UK would keep open the possibility of repealing the human rights convention after Brexit, possibly in a second referendum, as proposed by chief adviser Dominic Cummings in 2018.

    Soft Brexit: free trade area

    In the first half of 2018, it became known that May was aiming for a free trade area with the European Union that, although not part of the EU's internal market, would maintain the deep economic integration of the United Kingdom and continental Europe. This position was considered a “soft Brexit” in the United Kingdom because it contradicted the complete turn away from Europe favored by Ministers David Davis and Johnson. For large parts of the Conservative Party, a free trade agreement with the EU implies too great an external influence on the British economy, and the real goal of turning away from the EU is being missed: the UK should be able to independently conclude new free trade agreements with other states. After a government meeting in July 2018, Davis and Johnson resigned from their ministerial offices: In a document called the Checkers Plan , May expressly pleaded against a “hard Brexit”. It was able to bring together most of the members of the government behind the idea of ​​a free trade area.

    Hard Brexit: EU exit without agreement

    Shortly after the EU summit in Salzburg in September 2018, Theresa May saw the Brexit negotiations "at a dead end". In Salzburg she again denied the European Union concessions on the free movement of people for citizens of EU member states and stated in a televised address: "No agreement is better than a bad agreement." The United Kingdom must prepare for this. The motto “no agreement” corresponds to a so-called “hard Brexit”. May's domestic political campaign for a “soft Brexit”, which should also include a free trade agreement, had thus failed for the time being. The Labor Party started another attempt at the end of August 2019 to prevent a hard Brexit.

    Position of the EU

    The core requirement of the EU is the inseparability of the four freedoms of the internal market. On June 29, 2016, European Council President Donald Tusk said that the UK would not have access to the European Single Market until it accepted the free movement of goods, capital, services and people.

    Despite the initial approval of a majority of the EU states, May's proposal on the residence rights of migrants was rejected by EU Council President Tusk and German Chancellor Merkel. In February 2019, the EU Commission rejected a separate deal on the rights of the persons concerned to remain, which should also apply in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

    Payment claims

    According to Article 50, all obligations of a member state end on the day of exit, but the legally binding payment obligations to the EU that were assumed before the exit must also be fulfilled after the exit. The negotiating partners are obliged to negotiate the modalities of the separation and their future relationship. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier emphasized that in the two-year negotiation period, the future relationship with the United Kingdom would only be discussed if the British negotiating partner agreed to make payments. That is why David Davis prophesied before the House of Commons in 2017 that the dispute over money would last until the last day of the negotiations.

    Barnier's payment claims are based on the EU budgetary principle. “Open bills” are part of the EU budget. This results from its composition: the first part of the budget (raised by the EU net contributors) flows immediately to the recipients every year; The second part, which comprises more than a third of the total expenditure, namely the EU structural programs and the research programs , will only take effect in the following years after a binding decision has been made.

    The EU manages two “budgets”: one for payment appropriations (the “funding commitments”) and one for commitment appropriations. Payment appropriations define how much money the EU can spend in the coming financial year. Commitment authorizations specify which commitments the EU may make and what maximum amount (for expenses that are sometimes due years later). The UK has “co-signed” both types of authorization, so to speak.

    Every year the EU records how many commitments it has made in recent years for which no money has been received (“reste à liquider”, “RAL”). This total was (as of 2016) 217 ​​billion euros. Not every commitment is called up (e.g. because a planned project is not implemented after all or because an EU member state does not pay its own contribution to the co-financing).

    The UK has EU funding commitments and payment obligations for its share of payment appropriations. In September 2017, Prime Minister May announced that she would offer the EU up to 50 billion euros as a compensation payment.

    Citizenship rights for stays abroad after leaving the EU

    If an agreement regulates a legally orderly exit, no visa is required for citizens of the United Kingdom to enter EU member states and vice versa for citizens of EU member states after the UK leaves the EU: EU citizens are allowed within Spend 180 days 90 days in the UK without a visa. On March 1, 2017, a majority of the House of Lords voted for an amendment that obliges the government to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK despite Brexit. In doing so, they sent the draft Brexit law back to the House of Commons. On March 13, 2017, the latter refused to approve the amendment, which the House of Lords accepted on the same day. For citizens of an EU Member State who lived in the UK for five years without a break, the UK proposed in June 2017 that they be granted the status of “ settled ” after the UK left the EU equated with British citizens. Anyone who lives in the country for a shorter period of time is allowed to stay until the five years have been reached.

    If no agreement should regulate the legally orderly exit, in Germany there is grandfathering protection for previously acquired social security benefits. Even after Brexit, trainees may receive BAföG benefits for training that has previously started in the United Kingdom .

    This transitional act does not protect those who start working in the UK after Brexit or who return to Germany after returning from there.

    Negotiator

    Prime Minister May appointed on July 13, 2016 David Davis for Minister for the withdrawal from the European Union , whose resignation they took on 9 July 2018th After that, May led the negotiations on his own responsibility instead of Davis' successor Dominic Raab , who took on the role of deputy. He resigned on November 15, 2018 after he found that the draft treaty that Theresa May had accepted to shape the transition period for leaving the EU would result in an unlimited legal bond between the United Kingdom and the EU. Raab's successor was Stephen Barclay .

    On June 25, 2016 the European Council appointed Didier Seeuws as its negotiator for the shaping of future relations between the EU and Britain, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker appointed Michel Barnier as chief negotiator of the Commission for the preparation and Conducted the exit negotiations, and on September 8 the European Parliament appointed Guy Verhofstadt as its negotiator. This was supported by a group of members of the European Parliament, the so-called Brexit Steering Group .

    On September 14th, the European Commission decided to set up an "Article 50 Task Force" for the negotiations, led by Barnier. In addition, Sabine Weyand was appointed as Barnier's deputy.

    Article 50 of the EU Treaty

    Letter from the British Prime Minister Theresa May with the application to leave according to Art. 50 TEU

    The actual exit process was legally initiated in accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union through the notification of the British government to the European Council . This provides that after a state's declaration of intent on its exit from the EU, an agreement on the details of the exit will be negotiated, which also takes into account the future relations of this state with the Union.

    On March 29, 2017, the Prime Minister arranged for such a letter to be handed over to the President of the European Council , Donald Tusk, with the British declaration of intent (“withdrawal request”) . The letter also contains a request to leave the European Atomic Energy Community . Theresa May had previously announced the Queen's speech from the throne on June 21, 2017 as the starting point of the exit process at a Conservative party conference in Birmingham on October 2, 2016 .

    The Council of the European Union, as a body of the heads of government of the EU member states, formulates the negotiating goals. The European Commission carries out the objectives. The agreement must be adopted by the European Council on behalf of the Union by a qualified majority. If there is no majority, the state willing to leave the community must leave the community on the path of "unregulated exit". The European Parliament must also approve the outcome of the negotiations .

    There was the possibility of an extension of the deadline by the European Council, but this had to be decided unanimously. A state that has left the Union and wishes to become a member again can apply for this in accordance with the procedure set out in Article 49 of the EU Treaty.

    Role of the British Parliament

    On the question of whether the British government can formally notify the EU of its withdrawal under Article 50 without the consent of Parliament, seven lawsuits against the British government had already been filed at the beginning of August 2016 in order to require parliament's consent. As an example, the Supreme Court accepted the action brought by the London fund manager Gina Miller , and the hearing took place in October 2016.

    On October 18, the government appealed to the court on the usual ratification procedure ( the view within government is that it is very likely that this treaty will be subject to ratification process in the usual way ), with which parliament only decides on the election whether the UK would leave the EU with or without an agreement. However, the applicant sought to enable Parliament to decide whether to remain in the EU. Since the overwhelming majority of MPs had spoken out in this regard before the EU exit referendum, the government could have lost the majority in parliament and lost the vote if only a few dissenters from its own party had taken place. The government wanted to avoid the new elections that might be necessary as a result.

    The British government of Prime Minister Theresa May stuck to its position in relation to the court and the public that an explicit parliamentary vote on the exit was not necessary. On November 3, 2016, the High Court of Justice ruled that the British government must not initiate an exit from the EU without the consent of the British Parliament; On January 24, 2017 , the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the government directed against it with a majority of 8 to 3 judges. As a justification, the court stated that the planned exit from the EU would invalidate existing (EU) law in the United Kingdom, and that this would require an Act of Parliaments , i.e. H. a parliamentary decision. The approval of the regional parliaments of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales is not required.

    On February 1, 2017, the House of Commons voted with 498 votes in favor and 114 against the Article 50 Act, which authorized the government to initiate the withdrawal process. The parties SNP (50 MPs), Plaid Cymru (3), SDLP (3) and the Liberal Democrats (8) voted unanimously against the law. Before the vote, the Labor party leadership had tried with strict instructions to mobilize the parliamentary group as closely as possible for approval. Even so, of the 232 Labor MPs, 47 voted against the law. Kenneth Clarke was the only one of 320 Conservative MPs to vote against it.

    The opinion of the British government is also controversial among lawyers that leaving the EU automatically leads to leaving the EEA because the United Kingdom is also a member of the EEA through the EU. On February 3, 2017, the Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit that wanted Parliament to hold a separate vote on leaving the EEA.

    Judgment of the ECJ on the possibility of a unilateral withdrawal of the exit request

    MEPs from the Scottish, British and European Parliaments had called the Scottish Court of Session on the question of whether the United Kingdom could withdraw its declaration of intent to leave ("withdrawal motion") without the consent of the other EU member states. The civil court turned to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to assess the question .

    The Advocate General Manuel Campos Sánchez-Bordona thought the UK would withdraw his statement even without the consent of the other EU countries. However, the withdrawal must not be improper, it must be formally notified to the Council before the entry into force of a withdrawal agreement or before the expiry of the 2-year period and it must be in accordance with national constitutional law. The Advocate General justified his view with the fact that, according to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, a declaration of intent by a state can also be withdrawn as long as the legal act following the declaration has not yet entered into force. Against the background of the aspired ever closer union of the peoples of Europe, it is absurd to put obstacles in the way of a member state willing to return, provided that its decision was constitutionally and democratically made.

    The European Court of Justice ruled on December 10, 2018 that a member state can effectively withdraw a declaration of intent to exit without the consent of the other EU member states. The Court of Justice largely followed the Advocate General's request in the outcome and reasoning and added that the withdrawal should not be conditional.

    Great repeal bill

    In British law, international treaties only become effective after they have been converted into national law by a separate law, e.g. B. the European Communities Act 1972 , which regulates the validity of Union law in the United Kingdom.

    In order to adapt national law to exit the EU, Theresa May announced in October 2016 that she would submit a Great Repeal Bill to parliament with the aim of avoiding legal uncertainty from the start. The key points of this law, which the government presented in a white paper on March 30, 2017 , regulate:

    • The repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 and thus the continued application of Union law in the United Kingdom.
    • The transfer of the EU law valid at the time of exit into British law; this is to be achieved in that
      • directly applicable law, such as transforming EU regulations into UK law,
      • all national laws previously enacted on the basis of EU law initially remain unchanged,
      • the parts of EU primary law that individuals can invoke in court will also be adopted. In addition, when interpreting EU law that has been adopted, courts can continue to use the primary law valid at the time of exit,
      • all previous decisions of the European Court of Justice are treated as precedents like those of the Supreme Court as well
    • The creation of a statutory authorization to change the previous law after leaving the EU.

    The last point in particular is controversial as it allows ministers to amend or remove laws without the prior consent of Parliament. This possibility in the British system is based on a decree of Henry VIII from the year 1539, which allows the executive branch to exercise legislative functions by ordinance. According to the UK government, this is necessary in order to amend in detail the large number of laws based on EU law. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is expressly not to be adopted .

    The draft law was introduced on July 13, 2017 under the name European Union (Withdrawal) Bill . On December 13, 2017, the House of Commons voted with 309 (including 11 Conservatives) to 305 votes for an amendment that obliges the government to have the agreement on leaving the EU approved through a legislative procedure in parliament. On January 17, 2018, the House of Commons approved the law in its final reading with 324 to 295 votes.

    In the House of Lords, the Lords approved 15 amendments. Among other things, the withdrawal date should be deleted from the law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights should be retained. In addition, a motion that the United Kingdom's membership of the European Economic Area should be retained after leaving the EU also received a majority. However, the House of Commons rejected 14 of the 15 amendments. The bill finally passed both houses of parliament on June 20, 2018, and received royal approval on June 26. It should come into force after the UK leaves the EU.

    Dispute over the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

    Protest outside the Northern Ireland Assembly against a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (October 8, 2015)
    The British Isles form a Common Travel Area .

    The island of Ireland has been politically divided since 1921 : While Northern Ireland remained in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland first became a dominion within the Commonwealth and in 1949 a sovereign state . However, since 1921 there have been no regular border controls for passengers between Ireland and Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom due to the Common Travel Area . There are no goods controls at the border, as both countries belong to the European single market created in 1993 . Nonetheless, during the Northern Ireland conflict, military checkpoints were set up at many border crossings and most non-guarded crossings were closed.

    In 1998 Ireland, the United Kingdom and the leading political parties in Northern Ireland signed the so-called Good Friday Agreement . This largely ended the civil war-like conflict in Northern Ireland, in which over 3,500 people were killed in about 30 years. The agreement confirmed the status quo with the possibility that the Northern Irish could freely choose to unite with the Republic of Ireland in the future. Although the Good Friday Agreement makes no reference to the border or controls, border controls between Ireland and Northern Ireland have subsequently been reduced. Citizens of the Republic of Ireland on the one hand and the United Kingdom on the other hand can (with minimal identity checks within a "common travel territory" English "Common Travel Area" move) in the British Isles.

    Theresa May and Enda Kenny , Acting Prime Ministers of the Republic of Ireland, expressed their confidence in October 2016 that these practices would be maintained. In order to prevent illegal migration across the open Northern Irish border to the United Kingdom after Brexit, the Irish government approved a British plan in October 2016, according to which the British border guards will be extended to Ireland, i. i.e. Irish border guards prevent illegal entry at Irish ports and airports. This would prevent a new border from being created between Northern Ireland and Great Britain , the largest of the British Isles .

    During the negotiations on the Brexit Treaty, both the EU and the United Kingdom emphasized that after Brexit the border between the two parts of the island should remain without goods controls (customs controls), although the Republic of Ireland as a member of the EU is part of the EU customs union However, the United Kingdom will no longer be part of the customs union after the Brexit process has been completed. There will then be an external EU border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, at which goods controls are required according to EU rules, unless a customs-neutral trade agreement is concluded.

    In a speech to the Irish Parliament in Dublin, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier threatened the establishment of an EU customs border with Northern Ireland if no Brexit agreement was reached, but the Irish police warned in May 2018 that 1,000 Irish police officers ( gardai ) would be necessary and there is no plan for it. As early as 2016, a study by the Dublin Institute of International and European Affairs warned against the reintroduction of border controls along the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland: “The border would bring the nationalist community [the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland] to the Republic [Ireland] all in one Isolate dimensions in a way that has not existed in 40 years. It takes little imagination to conclude that turning back the clock would enrag nationalists enormously and fuel vocal calls for Irish unity, creating tensions among the [Protestant majority] population of Northern Ireland and thus tensions within Irish-British relations would generally be tightened. "

    Fallback solution ("backstop")

    To avoid physical checks, the agreement on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU includes the so-called backstop protocol ( German  "fallback solution" ). A solution should be available by 2020 [obsolete] to enable traffic between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland without goods controls despite the then existing external border of the EU internal market and the EU customs union. However, if such a solution cannot be agreed during the transition period, the entire United Kingdom would remain subject to the rules of the EU customs union and the internal market for the time being, in order to prevent border controls in any case.

    "Unionists", "Brino"

    The party leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Arlene Foster , whose ten MPs in the lower house of the UK Parliament support the minority government of the Conservative Party, made it clear in November 2018 that the DUP MPs would not agree to any solution that only Northern Ireland, but would not bind the rest of the UK to EU customs rules, as this would "drive Northern Ireland away" from Great Britain ( English "leaves us adrift" ).

    Equal treatment for Northern Ireland and Great Britain runs counter to the interests of the “hard Brexit” advocates, who are well represented in the ruling Conservative Party. They described the remaining of the whole of the United Kingdom in the EU customs union as “Brexit in name only”, called “Brino” by the British media. In mid-November, despite the agreement between the negotiators of the European Union and Theresa May, another impasse in the Northern Ireland problem was reached.

    In summary, this means that Great Britain wants to prevent a fragmentation of the national territory, and the EU a fragmentation of its internal market. However, if Great Britain waives tariffs and import controls vis-à-vis the Republic of Ireland in order to defuse the Northern Ireland conflict, this would constitute a violation of the most favored nation principle .

    Negotiations begin

    Originally, negotiations on the exit agreement sought by both sides should have been concluded by October 2018. Contrary to the intention of the United Kingdom, the terms of separation should first be fully negotiated and, if all points are agreed, the future relationship between the two parties should then be negotiated. The schedule was one week of negotiations per month.

    On June 19, 2017, the first round of negotiations began in Brussels under the leadership of Michel Barnier and David Davis . The British side agreed to the EU's requirement that the first round of negotiations should produce solutions for the following three issues:

    • Payment claims from the EU to the UK, estimated by journalists around 100 billion euros.
    • The future rights of UK citizens in the EU as well as citizens of the remaining 27 EU countries in the UK.
    • The border situation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland . A future external border of the EU can be expected here.

    On the recommendation of the European Commission , the Council of the European Union decided on December 15 to enter the second round of negotiations, although no negotiating point from the first round had been clarified.

    For the time after leaving in March 2019, a two-year transition phase until 2021 was originally planned. On March 19, 2018, the EU Commission and the British government agreed on a transition period until December 31, 2020. During the transition period, the United Kingdom would continue to have to adhere to all EU rules and also make financial contributions to the EU as before, but do not lose access to the EU internal market and remain part of the customs union. In the transition period, it should be clarified what the long-term partnership between the two sides can look like. Prime Minister May as well as the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier made it clear: ". Nothing is Agreed until everything is AGREED" ( "Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.") The payment claims of the United Kingdom to the EU or a transitional period ( "soft Brexit ”) would only come into force within the framework of a comprehensive exit agreement, otherwise a Brexit would take place without any concessions (“ hard Brexit ”).

    Draft exit agreement in November 2018

    Draft agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community

    On November 14, 2018, the European Commission and the British government presented a 585-page draft withdrawal agreement. Important contents of the agreement are regulations too

    1. the structuring of a transitional period of several years between the withdrawal of the United Kingdom and the conclusion of new treaties that regulate the relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom,
    2. Civil rights,
    3. the protection of geographical designations of origin,
    4. territorial issues.

    The draft contains a passage according to which the entire United Kingdom will form a customs union with the member states of the European Union by July 2020.

    Criticism from the EU member states

    Some of the other Member States criticized the draft treaty, among other things, because the problem of fishing rights was excluded from the draft treaty and has yet to be negotiated. Until now, EU fisheries have had full access to UK waters under the Common Fisheries Policy .

    The ambassador of Spain to the EU called for improvements to be made to the future status of the British territory of Gibraltar , where around 10,000 Spaniards work. Without the European Union, Spain would like to clarify all questions that regulate Gibraltar's relationship with Spain in bilateral negotiations with the United Kingdom. The European Union therefore promised the Spaniards that they could check all Gibraltar-related regulations in advance and prevent them if necessary.

    Criticism from the UK

    In the United Kingdom, the draft treaty met with criticism from both exit opponents and Brexit supporters. On November 15, 2018, Northern Ireland Secretary of State Shailesh Vara, Secretary of State Dominic Raab , Secretary of Labor Esther McVey and Secretary of State Suella Braverman resigned. Prime Minister Theresa May lost her four most important Brexit ministers within three hours. The rate of the British pound fell.

    Critics and opponents of the Prime Minister gathered in the Conservative Party. In addition to the resigned ministers, these included the long-standing May critic Jacob Rees-Mogg , who on November 15, 2018 openly called for a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister, the former party chairman Iain Duncan Smith and the ministers Davis and Johnson, who resigned in July 2018.

    Decision of the EU bodies

    On November 25, 2018, the heads of government of the 27 states remaining in the EU approved the draft treaty at a special summit of the European Council . On January 29, 2020, the European Parliament approved the agreement.

    First vote on May's draft contract

    First vote on January 15, 2019
    Political party Therefore On the other hand
    conservative 196 118
    Labor 003 248
    SNP 000 035
    Liberal Democrats 000 011
    DUP 000 010
    Plaid Cymru 000 004th
    Green party 000 001
    Independent 003 005
    total 202 432

    Prime Minister May postponed the vote in the lower house on the draft, scheduled for December 11, 2018, because it was rejected not only by the other parties, but also by numerous conservatives. May cited the main reason that the problem of the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland would not be solved satisfactorily by the previously agreed backstop . The backstop also met with resistance from many Brexit supporters in the House of Commons.

    Prime Minister Theresa May had to face a vote of no confidence within the lower house parliamentary group of the Conservative Party on December 12, 2018 , which gave her confidence with 200 votes to 117. According to the party rules, no new vote could be requested within one year.

    The House of Commons voting debate took place on January 15, 2019 and ended with 202 votes in favor and 432 votes against the draft treaty. More than a third of the conservative parliamentary group in the lower house voted against the agreement negotiated by their own government. The motives of the opponents of the agreement were different: firstly, a fundamental opposition to "Brexit" and the demand for a second EU referendum among the EU-friendly parties (Liberal Democrats, SNP, Green Party, Plaid Cymru), secondly, the efforts of the Labor Party, to force the resignation of the government and new elections by losing the vote, and thirdly, the dissatisfaction of conservative “Brexit” supporters with individual points of the agreement, especially with regard to Northern Ireland (Conservatives, DUP).

    Immediately after the vote, the Prime Minister declared her willingness to face a vote of confidence “if the opposition so wished”. Opposition leader Corbyn then submitted a motion for a vote of no confidence. The next day, the House of Commons in the May government expressed its confidence with 325 votes to 306.

    Renegotiations with the EU

    Speaker John Bercow

    A "Plan B" for Brexit, enforced by the House of Commons on January 21, 2019 and presented by Theresa May on that day in the British House of Commons, was seen as a mere variant of their "Plan A", except that the backstop had to be renegotiated with the EU. In the meantime, forces formed in the House of Commons to promote alternative ways out of the stalemate .

    16 majority vote, the House Theresa May on 29 January issued a mandate to cooperate with the EU on an "open border" between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to negotiate, be performed on the no controls, despite an EU border are would. The EU had already announced to the UK weeks earlier that this solution was not wanted. On February 8, 2019, May met Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar for the first time since the withdrawal agreement failed, who supported the withdrawal agreement but was open to postponing the UK's departure from the EU.

    On February 14, 2019, the MPs in the lower house voted 303 to 258 against a government resolution for a mandate for renegotiating the Brexit deal with the EU and a rejection of the EU exit without an agreement. Prime Minister Theresa May suffered another vote defeat.

    Second vote on March 12, 2019
    Political party Therefore On the other hand
    conservative 235 075
    Labor 003 238
    SNP 000 035
    Liberal Democrats 000 011
    DUP 000 010
    TIG 000 011
    Plaid Cymru 000 004th
    Green party 000 001
    Independent 003 006th
    total 242 391

    Second vote on May's draft contract

    In view of the approaching no-deal Brexit , three British ministers - Greg Clark , Amber Rudd and David Gauke - spoke out in favor of postponing the exit date for the first time on February 23, 2019 .

    On February 24, 2019, Prime Minister May announced that on March 12, 2019, parliament would “finally” vote on the EU exit treaty negotiated by her government. If the contract had been accepted, the option of a regulated exit from the EU on March 29, 2019 would have continued to exist. If parliament on March 12, 2019 does not approve the exit agreement negotiated by your government, there will be a vote on March 14, 2019 on whether there should be an unregulated Brexit on March 29, 2019 or a postponement of the exit date.

    In a departure from its previous position, the leadership of the Labor Party declared on February 25, 2019 that it would support the call for a second Brexit referendum if its own proposal for a Brexit agreement were to be rejected in parliament on February 28, 2019 .

    The second vote on the draft contract took place on March 12, 2019. In the previous weeks, the Prime Minister had unsuccessfully sought concessions in various European capitals.

    The draft contract was again clearly rejected by the House of Commons, albeit with a smaller majority than in January. This time the Independent Group (TIG), a grouping of eight former Labor and three Conservative MPs, was added to the negative parties .

    Vote against the disorderly exit from the EU

    On March 13, a majority of MPs voted against a disorderly Brexit (321 yes to 278 no) after a previously adopted amendment (312 yes to 308 no) removed the time limit from the main motion. This decision was not legally binding.

    First postponement of the departure date

    After the House of Commons approved the motion to postpone the EU's exit on March 14 with 412 votes in favor and 202 against, May applied to the President of the European Council Donald Tusk on March 20, 2019 for the first extension of the EU's exit to 30 June 2019. The Prime Minister outlined two possible scenarios: If the House of Commons still approved her government's exit treaty, only a short extension of the deadline would be required. If, on the other hand, the House of Commons continued to refuse, the exit from the EU would have to be postponed to a “much more distant date”; in the latter case, the United Kingdom would vote in the 2019 European elections , which were scheduled for May 23-26. This choice could also become a mood test.

    At the summit on March 21, the 27 other EU states decided to postpone it until April 12, 2019.

    Third vote on March 29, 2019
    Political party Therefore On the other hand
    conservative 277 034
    Labor 005 234
    SNP 000 034
    Liberal Democrats 000 011
    DUP 000 010
    TIG 000 011
    Plaid Cymru 000 004th
    Green party 000 001
    Independent 004th 005
    total 286 344

    Third vote on May's draft contract

    All votes on Prime Minister May's resignation treaty
    poll date Therefore On the other hand
    First 15. January 202 432
    Second March 12th 242 391
    third March 29th 286 344

    Speaker John Bercow stated on March 18 that a third vote on the government bill, planned for March 20, 2019, would not be possible without a substantive change. According to a parliamentary rule of April 2, 1604, the same bill could not be put to the vote again in the same session without changing the content.

    Since there was no majority in favor of the withdrawal agreement, the government did not bring the draft back to the House of Commons for a vote.

    On March 27, 2019, Theresa May offered MPs from her own party that she would step down as Prime Minister if the British House of Commons approves the negotiated exit agreement.

    In order to get the Speaker of Parliament Bercow to approve a third vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, the British government made use of legal finesse and split the agreement into two parts on March 28, 2019:

    1. the part of the contract on the negotiated exit modalities
    2. the part of the treaty on future UK-EU relations

    On March 29, 2019, which was long considered the date of the EU's exit, the British government submitted the negotiated exit agreement to the MPs for a vote. According to the latest statements by the European Council and the British government, the adoption of the entire agreement on March 29, 2019 was the last chance to prevent an exit without an agreement on April 12, 2019. It was believed that the British government wanted to build pressure to get the majority of MPs to accept. The members of the lower house already showed their majority rejection in the first of the two scheduled votes, which concerned the modalities of the treaty. The European Union immediately scheduled a meeting of the European Council, without a representation of the United Kingdom, for April 10, 2019.

    Votes on alternatives to May's resignation contract

    In order to counter the muddled situation, the House of Commons considered to vote on its own initiative and to sound out for which of the possible exit scenarios a parliamentary majority could possibly be found.

    First round of voting

    In the first round on March 27, 8 proposals were voted on. The parliamentarians voted to take control of the agenda from the government on March 27, 2019. On that day, they conducted indicative votes - non-binding test votes - in order to identify majority capabilities of alternatives to the rejected exit agreement. However, the parliamentarians could not agree on an alternative to the negotiated exit agreement. However, the initiators of the trial vote emphasized that this was not the purpose of the exercise. Rather, they want to find out which options have the highest chances of approval in order to be able to ask them again in a runoff election .

    First round of test votes on alternatives to the Withdrawal Agreement on March 27, 2019
    variant Yes No Diff. content
    Second EU referendum 268 295 027 Holding a second referendum
    Remain in a customs union 265 271 006th The UK is leaving the EU without an exit agreement , but should try to join the European Customs Union through negotiations with the EU immediately after leaving .
    Labor Party concept for leaving the EU 237 307 070 The UK is leaving the EU with the exit agreement, remains in the customs union and is based on the existing and future rules of the European internal market .
    Norwegian model of EU partnership 189 283 094 The UK remains in the European Economic Area and the Customs Union and joins the European Free Trade Association .
    Withdrawal from the EU exit in the event of the impending unregulated exit from the EU 184 293 109 In order to avoid an exit without an agreement, the government should be obliged to hold a vote at least two meeting days before leaving the EU on whether the country should leave without a treaty. If this is rejected, London should revoke the resignation.
    Unregulated exit from the EU 160 400 240 The UK leaves the EU on April 12th without a withdrawal agreement.
    Malthouse Plan B 139 422 283 Exit on the basis of the negotiated exit agreement, without a fallback solution ( backstop ) .
    Norwegian variant without customs union 064 377 313 Like the Norwegian model of an EU partnership , but without remaining in the customs union.

    Second round of voting

    In a second round on April 1st, four proposals selected by Speaker Bercow were put to the vote.

    Second round of test votes on alternatives to the Withdrawal Agreement on April 1, 2019
    variant Yes No Diff. content
    Second EU referendum 280 292 012th Holding a second referendum
    Remain in a customs union 273 276 003 The UK is leaving the EU without an exit agreement , but should try to join the European Customs Union through negotiations with the EU immediately after leaving .
    Norwegian model of EU partnership 261 282 021 The UK remains in the European Economic Area and the Customs Union and joins the European Free Trade Association .
    Withdrawal from the EU exit in the event of the impending unregulated exit from the EU 191 292 101 In order to avoid an exit without an agreement, the government should be obliged to hold a vote at least two meeting days before leaving the EU on whether the country should leave without a treaty. If this is rejected, London should revoke the resignation.

    Second postponement of the departure date

    On April 2, 2019, Theresa May announced that she would again ask the European Council to extend the EU exit. At the same time, she wanted to talk to opposition leader Corbyn and other representatives of opposing parties such as Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford . Because of this change of direction, on April 3, Nigel Adams , Secretary of State in the Wales Office , and Christopher Heaton-Harris , Secretary of State in the Department for Leaving the European Union , resigned from their posts.

    On April 4, the House of Commons passed a law with a majority of only one vote (313 votes in favor to 312 against) that would oblige the Prime Minister to submit a second extension request that went beyond the first extension, which ended on April 12. The law passed the House of Lords on April 8th.

    On April 5, 2019, Theresa May applied to the President of the European Council Donald Tusk on behalf of the British government for the second extension of the EU's exit to June 30, 2019. Such an extension, however, required the United Kingdom to participate in the 2019 European elections .

    In order to avoid an unregulated Brexit, Tusk and the heads of government proposed a flexible postponement of the exit from the EU by up to a year. The proposal is also known as “Flextension” or “Flexi-Brexit”. In contrast, the French President feared that the EU would be weakened if the British representatives were involved in EU politics after the European elections. On the night of April 11, 2019, the 27 heads of state and government agreed on a postponement until October 31, 2019 at the latest.

    European elections 2019

    In the European elections on May 23, 2019, the Conservatives suffered heavy losses, especially in England, and Labor especially in Scotland and Wales, while the EU-friendly Liberal Democrats achieved a record result. The strongest party was the Brexit Party , founded just a few months earlier under Nigel Farage , which won 30.5% more votes than its predecessor UKIP in the previous European elections (26.6%). The only political goal of the Brexit Party is to enforce an early exit from the EU, if necessary without a corresponding agreement.

    Prime Minister May resigns and elects her successor

    On May 24, 2019, Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation as Chairwoman of the Conservative Party on June 7, 2019. As Prime Minister, she wants to remain in office until a successor is elected. In the following years, several prominent Conservative politicians declared their candidacy for the office of party chairman, including Boris Johnson , Michael Gove , Jeremy Hunt , Sajid Javid , Rory Stewart , Dominic Raab , Andrea Leadsom and Matt Hancock .

    After an elimination process in several rounds by the members of the Conservative House of Commons, Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson remained, who stood for the members of the Conservative Party to vote. Johnson won with 92,153 votes (66.3%) against 46,656 (33.7%) for Hunt.

    Law to prevent the dissolution of parliament

    On July 18, 2019, the House of Commons passed a resolution by 315 votes to 274, with 52 abstentions, according to which the Prime Minister should no longer be able to dissolve Parliament between October 9 and December 18, 2019. The future Prime Minister was thus deprived of the opportunity to bring about a no-deal Brexit without parliamentary participation on October 31, 2019 . While Hunt had ruled out a dissolution of parliament, Johnson hadn't made a commitment on the matter. The government had spoken out against the request. Since 17 Conservative MPs also voted for the motion and 30 others abstained, it obtained a majority.

    Exit negotiations and long-term relationships under Prime Minister Boris Johnson (2019-2020)

    Queen Elizabeth II named Boris Johnson Prime Minister on July 24, 2019. On the same day, he presented his new cabinet , which was prominently made up of leading Brexit supporters. On August 1, the Liberal Democrats candidate won the previously Conservative-owned Brecon and Radnorshire constituency in a by-election, reducing the Johnson government's majority in the House of Commons to a single seat.

    The new prime minister rejected the negotiated exit agreement, but categorically ruled out another postponement of the EU exit status and was thus heading for a no-deal Brexit on October 31, 2019. However, in contrast to his conservative competitors for the prime ministerial office, he had expressly not ruled out this. He reaffirmed this position on September 2nd:

    “I want everybody to know - there are no circumstances in which I will ask Brussels to delay. We are leaving on October 31, no ifs or buts. "

    “I want everyone to know that under no circumstances will I ask Brussels to postpone anything. We will leave the EU on October 31, no ifs or buts. "

    - Prime Minister Boris Johnson : Government of the United Kingdom

    After his appointment, Johnson traveled to several European capitals to promote improvements to May's exit deal. The heads of government visited, however, maintained their position that the negotiated exit agreement was an overall package and could not be renegotiated in individual parts. As a result, on August 27, 2019, delegates from various opposition parties agreed on a strategy to avert the no-deal Brexit through a law that forces Johnson to apply for an extension of the exit period from the EU. Individual Brexit opponents from the conservative parliamentary group such as Dominic Grieve also declared their support. The other option of overthrowing Johnson by a vote of no confidence and installing Labor party leader Jeremy Corbyn as interim prime minister was rejected by the Liberal Democrats.

    On the other side of the political spectrum, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage declared that no-deal Brexit was the only viable alternative and called on Johnson to pursue this solution consistently. May's exit contract, on the other hand, is "betrayal of the voters".

    On August 29, 2019, the chairwoman of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson , under whose leadership the Scottish section of the party had consolidated as the second largest force in Scotland, announced her resignation. She is considered a sharp critic of Johnson's Brexit course.

    Benn Act and voting on new elections

    Former Labor Minister Hilary Benn published the text of an intergroup bill on September 2nd. The envisaged law should prevent a no-deal Brexit by asking the Prime Minister to request the EU to extend the exit negotiations if no exit agreement has been ratified between the EU and the UK government by October 19, 2019.

    On September 3, 2019, Parliament met again after its summer recess. Johnson put his parliamentary group under pressure by threatening to expel dissenters from the party and threatening to dissolve parliament and hold new elections. During the ongoing debate, MP Phillip Lee switched from the Conservative to the Liberal Democratic group. The Johnson administration lost its majority in the lower house. In an emergency debate with 328 against 301, the lower house decided to take over the initiative. 21 Conservative MPs also voted against the government, including Kenneth Clarke , Dominic Grieve , Philip Hammond , Oliver Letwin , Antoinette Sandbach , Nicholas Soames and Rory Stewart , who were immediately expelled from the Conservative parliamentary group. Amber Rudd , who is considered a moderate conservative , therefore resigned from her position as Minister of Labor on September 7, 2019 and declared her departure from the Tories faction. Johnson's brother Jo Johnson had previously resigned his parliamentary seat on September 5 .

    On September 4, the House of Commons voted 327 to 299 votes for the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019 , most often called the Benn Act . In the House of Lords, Brexit-friendly members then tried to prevent the law from being passed before the parliamentary break with the help of more than 100 amendments. However, on September 6, the House of Lords approved the law. The Queen approved it on September 9th, the last day before the parliamentary recess. The law obliged the government to ask the EU negotiating partners to postpone the exit date to the end of January 2020 if no exit agreement is concluded by October 19, 2019.

    Prime Minister Johnson meanwhile repeatedly called for new elections for October 15, 2019. According to the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011, new elections would require either a lost confidence vote by the government or a two-thirds vote in the lower house (434 of the 650 MPs). Labor party leader Corbyn also spoke out in favor of new elections. On September 4, 298 MPs voted for the new election, which meant that the proposal had failed. 56 voted against, including almost all members of the Liberal Democrats. 288 abstained, including the Scottish National Party and large parts of the Labor Party, on the grounds that they would not vote for new elections until the newly passed law to prevent an EU exit without a treaty came into force. A second vote on September 9, 2019 failed again with only 293 votes for the new election, which was no longer possible before the planned exit date on October 31, 2019. After that session, the break-time enforced by Johnson began for Parliament on September 10, 2019.

    Postponement of Parliament

    On August 28, 2019, Johnson had the Queen proclaim the adjournment of Parliament ( prorogation ) from September 10 to October 10, 2019, which British governments usually arrange once a year (usually in April or May). During this time, the Queen gives the Queen's Speech , in which the government 's goals for the coming year are set out. The adjournment will terminate legislative processes that have not yet been concluded, i. H. they have to be started all over after the end of the adjournment, which usually lasts less than two weeks.

    The adjournment of parliament initiated by Johnson caused violent reactions not only because of its unusually long duration (23 working days - the longest suspension since 1945), but also because of the time chosen. The speaker - who usually does not comment on political announcements of the day - John Bercow called the measure a "constitutional scandal" ( "constitutional outrage" ). The purpose of the suspension is clearly to prevent or end the parliamentary debate on Brexit and the country's future.

    Two actions against the compulsory break before the English High Court in London and the Northern Irish High Court in Belfast were unsuccessful because the issue was a political, not a legal one. The lawsuit brought by a bipartisan group of over 70 MPs under the leadership of Joanna Cherry against the adjournment before the Scottish Court of Session also initially remained unsuccessful, while the three-member Inner House appellate body ruled on September 11, 2019 that the adjournment was unlawful.

    The UK government appealed against this ruling to the UK Supreme Court , which unanimously ruled on September 24th that the forced break was illegal. The main complainant before the Supreme Court was activist Gina Miller , legally represented by David Pannick . Miller offered ex-Prime Minister John Major as a witness .

    Renegotiation with the EU and new draft of the exit agreement

    On September 19, 2019, Antti Rinne , Prime Minister of Finland , which at the time was the presidency of the Council of the European Union , stated that Johnson only had until September 30 to submit new ideas to the EU to avoid a hard Brexit .

    On October 17th, the British government and the European Commission announced a breakthrough in the negotiations for the exit agreement. In the new draft contract, the controversial backstop was deleted. In its place, a regulation should be implemented according to which goods destined for the EU would already be cleared and checked on the British side, while goods that remain in Northern Ireland would not be affected by EU rules. This would prevent a “hard border” on the island of Ireland while allowing the UK to sign its own new trade deals across the country. However, some EU internal market rules would continue to apply to Northern Ireland. This regulation is not unlimited in time, but is only to be extended at the end of the transition period in agreement with the Northern Ireland Assembly . The new agreement was approved shortly afterwards by all 27 EU member states in the European Council.

    Third postponement of the exit date and EU exit in 2020

    Letters from British Prime Minister Johnson to the European Council dated 19 October 2019.  The first letter - without letterhead from No. Downing Street  10 and without signature - applies for the postponement of leaving the EU on January 31, 2020 in accordance with Art. 50 TEU.  The second letter - with letterhead and signature - asks that the application be rejected. Letters from British Prime Minister Johnson to the European Council dated 19 October 2019.  The first letter - without letterhead from No. Downing Street  10 and without signature - applies for the postponement of leaving the EU on January 31, 2020 in accordance with Art. 50 TEU.  The second letter - with letterhead and signature - asks that the application be rejected.
    Letters from British Prime Minister Johnson to the European Council dated 19 October 2019. The first letter - without letterhead from No. Downing Street 10 and without signature - applies for the postponement of leaving the EU on January 31, 2020 in accordance with Art. 50 TEU. The second letter - with letterhead and signature - asks for the application to be rejected.

    Against this draft treaty there was resistance in the House of Commons, among others from the Northern Irish Unionists, who saw in it the danger of a legal distinction between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. The vote on the agreement, which was scheduled for October 19 (i.e. the last possible day under the Benn Act), was postponed by the Letwin Amendment , because some MPs feared that the Brexit hardliners would block all necessary implementation laws after approval and thus still a No. -Deal could force Brexit.

    This forced Johnson to request another postponement of the exit date until midnight. He reluctantly fulfilled this obligation, but demonstratively did not sign the letter to the European Council.Instead, he sent a second letter in which he called on the EU heads of state and government not to agree to the extension he had requested. Instead, he wants to try to have the exit agreement ratified by October 31.

    The European Council decided on October 25th to approve the postponement in principle, but without first announcing the exact duration, as no agreement could be reached for the time being. French President Emmanuel Macron had pleaded for a very short postponement of around 14 days in order to put pressure on the House of Commons. Finally, the council agreed to wait for the House of Commons vote on Johnson's now-announced motion for new elections on December 12th before deciding on an exact deadline. On October 28, the EU Council voted for a “flexible” postponement of the exit date to January 31, 2020 with the option of an earlier exit, provided the current Brexit deal is accepted by the British House of Commons.

    On January 29th, the European Parliament ratified the EU exit treaties. The debate on ratifying the Treaties was the last for UK MEPs as they left the European Parliament on January 31, 2020.

    After the conservatives won the parliamentary elections on December 12, 2019, the exit process was brought to a swift conclusion. On January 9, 2020, the British House of Commons approved the Brexit Act and on January 22, after a few unsuccessful amendments, the House of Lords also approved.

    The UK formally left the European Union on January 31, 2020. However, according to the exit agreement, EU law was still applied for the time being in the so-called "transition phase" until the end of 2020. Until then, a separate contract should be negotiated and concluded on the future, long-term relationship between the UK and the EU. Otherwise, another hard Brexit without a deal threatened. The Northern Ireland Protocol is perpetual.

    Negotiating a long-term trade and cooperation agreement

    Negotiations on a long-term trade and cooperation agreement began immediately after the UK left the EU. There were only a few months left for this (unlike originally planned, since the negotiations on the exit agreement alone had already been extended by years). This represented an enormous challenge, because on the one hand it was about the largest trade agreement ever concluded for both sides, on the other hand such a deal has never been negotiated in such a short time (for comparison: the CETA agreement with Canada was prepared for 7 years).

    To this end, the British side published a catalog of demands on February 3, 2020:

    The European Council issued a negotiating mandate on February 25. Michel Barnier remained EU negotiator, and David Frost on the British side . The first talks started on March 3rd. On March 18, a first draft contract was published by the EU; the British side, on the other hand, failed to do so. The contract was originally supposed to be negotiated by the end of June (deadline for agreeing an extension of the transition period), otherwise preparations would be made for a no-deal Brexit. However, the fronts also seemed hardened during these negotiations, so that initially no significant progress could be made for months. Even on the issue of human rights , positions seemed to differ, and Britain even began to violate previously agreed points of the Northern Ireland Protocol. The corona pandemic made the process even more difficult.

    On September 9, 2020, the British government published a draft for the so-called Internal Market Act , a law intended to regulate future British trade policy. The draft law explicitly violated the exit agreement with the EU and the Northern Ireland Protocol. In addition, the regional governments of Scotland , Northern Ireland and Wales resisted the law, as it was supposed to deprive them of certain rights that were granted to them in the context of devolution . The UK government admitted that the law was illegitimate, but continued to adhere to it. As a result, several top British politicians resigned, including the head of the judiciary, Jonathan Jones and Amal Clooney . The EU reacted indignantly and gave Great Britain an ultimatum for a legally compliant correction. An agreement was only reached on December 8th.

    In the meantime, several deadlines had passed without result (in some cases, due to the above-mentioned legal dispute, no official negotiations were held for months), so that the timely ratification of an agreement seemed practically impossible. The main points of contention remained, in particular, the fisheries policy and the harmonization of product standards.

    When no result was apparent in December 2020 either, the negotiations were handed over to the highest level (Prime Minister Johnson and Commission President von der Leyen). Attempts by Boris Johnson to negotiate bilaterally only with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were rejected because the EU had sole trade competence. On December 17th, the chairmen of the largest political groups in the European Parliament announced that an agreement had to be reached by December 20th, otherwise they would no longer discuss the agreement because there was not enough time to examine it. This deadline also passed without result.

    An agreement in principle on a long-term trade and cooperation agreement was only reached on December 24th . This was signed by the British government and the EU Commission and initially entered into force after the approval of the governments of all EU member states. Then ratification by the UK House of Commons, the European Parliament and, in some cases, the national parliaments of the member states is required. On the British side, the vote took place on December 30, 2020. The formal ratification of the agreement by the European Parliament took place on April 28, 2021.

    The compromise found consists of three main pillars:

    1. A comprehensive free trade and cooperation agreement :
      • There are no bilateral import duties on goods originating in the UK or the EU, and there are no quantitative restrictions on imports.
      • Import and export formalities will exist in the future, but should be made as simple as possible, especially for cars, medicines, chemicals and wine.
      • In the particularly controversial, albeit economically insignificant area of ​​fisheries, a transitional phase of five and a half years was agreed during which fishing rights for fishermen from the EU in British waters will be reduced by 25 percent; From June 2026, annual negotiations on the catch quotas will then take place.
      • In the area of ​​financial services there are still questions that should be clarified in the coming months.
      • The United Kingdom is withdrawing from the Erasmus program , but continues to participate in five other EU programs (the Horizon Europe research program, the Euratom research and training program, the ITER nuclear fusion reactor project , the Copernicus earth observation system and the SST satellite monitoring system ), in return, must continue to participate in their financing.
      • In addition, the issues of investment, competition, government subsidies, tax transparency, air and road traffic, energy and sustainability, data protection (in particular a new transition period for data flows) and coordination of social security are regulated, because the EU feared that previous standards would be undermined . But she had to give up her demand that Great Britain should also adopt future changes to EU standards.
      • The previous freedom of movement no longer applies. EU citizens will need a passport to enter the UK from October 2021. EU citizens who already live in the UK can still apply for a residence permit until June 30, 2021; Those who want to immigrate since January 1, 2021, on the other hand, must meet certain criteria, including an income threshold to prevent the immigration of low-skilled workers. At the turn of the year, the British lose the right to live and work in all states of the European Union.
    2. A security and information agreement : This is particularly about the exchange of secret information
    3. An agreement on cooperation in the civil use of nuclear energy .
    4. Regulations for the implementation of the agreement. Among other things, a joint partnership council is set up and binding enforcement and dispute resolution mechanisms are established.

    Cooperation in the areas of foreign policy, external security and defense is not part of the agreement as the UK did not want to negotiate on this.

    In the trade and cooperation agreement, Gibraltar was excluded due to its special situation. It was not until the end of December 2020, shortly before the United Kingdom left the European single market , that Spain and the United Kingdom surprisingly agreed that Gibraltar would join the Schengen area on January 1, 2021 . As a result, the EU's external border will shift to the ports and the international airport of Gibraltar. Spain is responsible for controlling the external border of Gibraltar.

    Possible consequences of Brexit

    For the UK

    The UK government released the Yellowhammer documents on September 11, 2019 , "a list of likely outcomes, projections of what can happen in a worst-case scenario".

    economy

    The annual reports of the European Court of Auditors have sparked discussions in the UK about whether the advantages of EU membership offset the disadvantages, e.g. B. the payments to the EU, predominate. In the financial markets, however, the prevailing opinion was that the UK would benefit from membership of the EU, and when business actors spoke out, a large majority were in favor of the UK remaining.

    Immediately after the exit vote, most market participants and economists doubted that the external value of the pound sterling , which had lost its original strength since 2008 , would remain stable in the long term.

    State budget

    With Brexit, the UK would lose its obligation as the third largest net contributor to help fund the EU budget. In contrast, independent experts calculated in 2016 that leaving the EU by 2020 [obsolete] could "tear a hole of 40 billion pounds" in the British treasury.

    The UK has a long-standing trade deficit with the EU-27 , with (2019) imports of £ 372 billion but exports of only £ 300 billion. This deficit is being financed by net new UK indebtedness to foreign creditors. A weaker GBP exchange rate makes it difficult to repay foreign loans, but in the long run it also implies the chance of reducing the trade deficit by reducing the import orientation of the economy and turning it into an export orientation.

    For British universities, it is very likely that the EU will completely stop its financial contribution to support research activities when the country is no longer a member of the EU. The EU funded 16% of UK research in 2015.

    Companies

    Felixstowe Harbor , England

    Before the referendum on remaining in the European Union was called, the banker Gerard Lyons examined scenarios for the event of a Brexit and continued EU membership on behalf of the London Mayor Johnson and speculated the following advantages and disadvantages in 2014:

    Advantages: A Brexit could potentially significantly increase the UK's economic performance if the government were able to pursue a more successful trade policy than the EU.

    A weaker British pound could lead to a comeback of British industry if the economic policy is appropriate .

    Neutral: The EU Working Time Directive is particularly controversial between UK employers and trade unions. After a Brexit, one could get rid of this social legislation, which costs British companies £ 1.8 billion a year (2013).

    Disadvantages: If the UK fails with its own trade policy, leaving could be less favorable for its economic performance than staying. In view of the short period of time between the application for exit and its execution, a fall over the cliff edge is to be feared. The United Kingdom would fall back into the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) without a contract , which with its rigid tariffs of between 0 and 604% could have destructive effects on the complex supply chains in the UK's highly integrated EU foreign trade.

    The liberal think tank Open Europe published a paper in 2015 with the tenor that Brexit was an underestimated danger. The United Kingdom would have to negotiate a new market access to the EU internal market from a position of weakness . This includes the financial services industry in the City of London , whose companies paid taxes of 80 billion euros in 2015 and which would lose their Europe-wide operating license under current law as a result of Brexit. In the best-case scenario, a Brexit would increase the UK's annual economic output by 1.6% by 2030, and in the worst-case scenario it would depress it by 2.2%. Open Europe also forecast falling wealth, adding up the annual loss to £ 56 billion. Without EU membership, the voice of the British government would lose weight when supranational actors such as the WTO or the G7 negotiate new economic policy agreements.

    US President Barack Obama warned in April 2016 that Brexit supporters were confident that more favorable trade agreements would be possible in the event of the EU leaving the EU : “Our main interest ( note: that of the US) is in the big bloc, the EU. If Great Britain were alone, it would be at the very back of the queue. ”In view of an exit from the EU that appears plausible according to surveys, Obama also drew attention to the negative consequences for British foreign trade , which is heavily geared towards exports to the EU.

    The US President Donald Trump takes a different point of view and supports a no-deal Brexit because the conclusion of the FTA free trade agreement depends on it. From July 10 to 11, 2019, the sixth meeting since 2017 between the American and British representatives took place in London as part of the work on the FTA contract project.

    In addition, the most-favored-nation principle prohibits a state from offering trade concessions only to individual states, unless all contractual partners are members of the same free trade zone in which the concessions are offered to all members and the tariffs on non-members are not increased. This means that the UK cannot conclude trade agreements with individual EU countries; the government in London would have to negotiate directly with the EU about trade facilitation and the country would not receive better trade terms than an EU member so that competition within the EU is not distorted. This WTO / GATT rule is also reflected in Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union . For the same reason, difficulties are to be expected if the UK remains in a trade alliance with the EU and nevertheless wishes to conclude trade agreements with non-EU countries. It is foreseeable that the EU will exclude third countries from improving their position through treaty provisions.

    Theresa May praised the exit in January 2017 as an opportunity for a stronger global position for the United Kingdom. Hopes for economic benefits from Brexit were further dampened when a secret government paper leaked to the public in January 2018 in which experts from the ruling Conservative Party concluded that the UK would definitely be economic as a result of leaving the EU Will suffer losses. The smallest losses were forecast for the scenario of the UK remaining in the domestic market.

    By September 2018, 25 international banks had announced the relocation of their EU locations from London to Frankfurt am Main ; other locations contemplated were Paris and Dublin . On March 29, 2019, the Irish Times published a survey of banks, according to which up to 1,500 employees may have been relocated from the UK to other EU locations due to Brexit.

    Workers, consumers

    Advantages: In the event of a Brexit, the free movement of citizens of EU member states will be stopped. This could increase the nominal wage level ; All things being equal , real wages would rise.

    Disadvantages: The planned Brexit could result in efforts to compensate for the economic costs of the exit, as proposed by the think tank Open Europe , by dismantling certain regulations, including workers' rights. According to unanimous forecasts, a negative consequence of a Brexit would also be the loss of high-quality jobs that are relocated abroad.

    The UK is an important food export market for other Europeans. The balance between exports and imports compared to Germany is 3.4 billion euros. The UK's food self-sufficiency rate was 60% in 2016. The increase in the cost of importing goods would affect all economic goods whose production costs are partially or completely invoiced in a currency whose external value increases against the pound sterling with which consumers pay. In August 2018, the Confederation of British Industry noted that the lack of a successor agreement with the EU in particular is likely to "hit British consumers hard"; whether there would be supply shortages was a question of political preparation and the purchasing power of the pound sterling.

    environment

    The environmental activist Helena Norberg-Hodge and the Extinction Rebellion spokesman Rupert Read put Brexit in the context of tendencies towards “localization”. According to them, Brexit carries the risk that Great Britain could move away from previously made concessions to environmental and climate protection in the sense of a race to the bottom . At the same time, there is the possibility of breaking free from entanglement in a “fragile, resource-intensive and completely destructive global economy” and renewing the connection to the earth and local connections.

    The European Commission suspended Great Britain's granting of European Union Allowances ( EUA) of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) on January 1, 2019 and declared that EUAs of the UK ETS section as well as emission certificates of the UNO according to the Kyoto Protocol in the event of a no- Deal Brexits would be inaccessible.

    migration

    After leaving the EU, the United Kingdom needs a new basis to ward off illegal migrants. B. France instructed. Some aspects of the common border security are based on EU law, after the exit new agreements would be necessary.

    In 2018, the British authorities recorded around 297 people illegally entering the Kingdom from Europe. Despite an agreement with France in January 2019, according to which the UK will pay £ 6 million to tackle illegal migration, the number of arrivals rose to 1,800 in 2019. There were 125 cases of returns illegally entered the European Union in 2019.

    The UK government said it would review proposals for new rules on immigration. They want to attract highly qualified workers with a points system . On January 27, 2020, it announced a new Global Talent Visa program for academics, which is scheduled to take effect on February 20.

    British abroad

    In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the British must apply for a residence permit in order to be able to continue living in another EU country. The health insurance previously organized by the National Health Service will lose its validity and you will no longer have health insurance coverage in the EU.

    Human rights

    British human rights organizations warned in an open letter in early 2018 that Brexit in its previously planned form would weaken human rights. Since the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights would lose its validity in the United Kingdom, there would be loopholes in the law because not all of the rights laid down there were reflected in national laws. However, the Good Friday Agreement obliges the United Kingdom to guarantee the rights of the people of Northern Ireland under the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

    State borders: Northern Ireland, Gibraltar, France

    In addition to the land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland , Spain shares a border with the British overseas territory of Gibraltar . In a broader sense, the stations of the Channel Tunnel in France and England are also border districts, since according to the Treaty of Le Touquet, British border controls take place on French territory and vice versa. In the referendum campaign, Prime Minister David Cameron had problematized border controls with France by considering the continuation of the Le Touquet Agreement of 2003 as jeopardized in the event of a Brexit. As a bilateral international agreement, the agreement is not part of European Union law .

    Scotland

    The Scottish First Minister and Chairperson of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Nicola Sturgeon , is planning a new referendum on Scotland's independence from Great Britain in 2021. In the 2014 referendum, 55% of voters opted to stay in the UK, but in the 2016 referendum on the UK's exit from the EU in Scotland, 62% of the participants voted against leaving the EU. A mass demonstration for Scotland's independence from Great Britain took place in Edinburgh on October 6, 2019 .

    On October 12, 2019, the Financial Times reported that the SNP MPs in the London House of Commons were ready to support the Labor Party leader at the time, Jeremy Corbyn, in a minority government , as this was the only way to guarantee to prevent a Brexit without a treaty. The prerequisite would be that the Labor Party allow a second Scottish referendum on secession from the United Kingdom.

    In the event that Northern Ireland remains associated with the EU - for example by remaining in the customs union - it is expected that Scotland will also insist on special treatment. Observers see Brexit and how differently the EU issue is viewed in England and Scotland as a possible threat to the UK's integrity.

    For the European Union

    With a Brexit, the EU will lose its second largest economy, the country with the third largest population and the (previous) “financial capital of the world”. With Brexit, the third largest net contributor to the financing of the European Union budget will no longer exist (operating budget balances 2016: Germany 10.99 billion euros, France 9.22 billion euros, United Kingdom 6.27 billion euros).

    During the preparations for the next framework budget of the European Union, the Commissioner for Financial Planning and Budget Günther Oettinger estimated in January 2018 the loss of revenue as a result of the United Kingdom leaving the EU as a net payer at EUR 13 billion per year. If the volume of expenditure in the EU remained the same, the four net contributors Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and Austria would be particularly affected. From now on Austria would have to pay an additional 400 million euros per year and Germany 4.5 billion euros for 2019 and 2020 [out of date] . The net contributors are at a disadvantage in terms of negotiation: If no agreement can be reached within the remaining EU-27 to reduce the budget, the budget will continue unchanged.

    The United Kingdom will no longer be an important shareholder in the European Investment Bank (EIB), in which only EU member states are represented, when it leaves the EU. The UK's share was 16% or € 3.4 billion.

    According to the Treaty of Lisbon (2009), at least four members of the Council are required to form a blocking minority when resolutions are passed with a so-called qualified majority . This regulation was made in order to prevent the dominance of the three most populous states (Germany, France, United Kingdom). After the British, traditionally concerned about budgetary discipline, left, Germany would only be supported on this point by the Dutch, Baltic and Scandinavians. The advocates of EU budget discipline could henceforth be outvoted by the other EU states, for example in votes on a banking union with EU-wide deposit insurance. That is legally problematic. If, with Brexit, the business basis of the majority rule agreed in the Lisbon Treaty no longer applies, an adjustment of the quorum for the blocking minority will be necessary.

    With Brexit, the EU lost the only other member besides France that is a nuclear power and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council .

    Education and Research

    UK participation in educational collaborations that are not limited to the EU - e.g. B. the Bologna Process , the European Qualifications Framework and the Europass - remains possible even after a Brexit.

    fishing

    Of the approximately 3 million tonnes of fish caught in British waters , the British share is only 750,000 tonnes. This proportion is determined by the London Fisheries Convention of 1964 and the EU Common Fisheries Policy. The UK government announced in July 2017 the cancellation of the 1964 Convention which would allow Irish fishermen access to UK waters, which would hit the Irish fishing industry particularly hard as it gets a third of its catch from there. However, it will no longer be possible to export British fish to the EU internal market without a trade agreement with the EU.

    For Germany

    Shortly after the referendum, the German Bundestag published an analysis of the impact of a Brexit on the EU and, in particular, on Germany's political and economic position. According to this, the United Kingdom is the third most important export market for German products after the USA and France. In total, Germany exports goods and services worth around 120 billion euros annually, which corresponds to around 8% of German exports, with Germany achieving a trade surplus of 36.3 billion euros (2014) with the United Kingdom. A total of 750,000 jobs in Germany depend on exports to Britain. In the event of a hard Brexit, German-British trade would be subject to WTO tariffs, and this would particularly affect German car exports, where a tariff of almost 10% would have to be paid.

    The United Kingdom has traditionally been the most important export country for the German automotive industry. In both 2016 and 2017, with a downward trend, more cars were delivered to the United Kingdom (over 750,000 per year) than were exported to the entire American continent or to Asia .

    The former head of the Ifo Institute , Hans-Werner Sinn , described Brexit as "devastating" for Germany. From an economic point of view, Brexit would destroy the blocking minority in the European Council, so that the Mediterranean countries could henceforth "rule through" against Germany.

    Opportunities for EU member states

    The heads of government of the EU member states remaining after a Brexit have put in place strategies to take advantage of the UK's exit. Since his election in May 2017, French President Macron has tried to persuade the 200,000 or so French abroad living in London to return to France in order to strengthen the competitiveness of the Parisian financial center. Besides Italy, France offers the highest tax breaks for returnees.

    In November 2017, Paris before Dublin was chosen by drawing lots as the new location for the European Banking Authority .

    As a result of Brexit, 630 jobs were created in the banking sector across the EU by September 2018.

    A number of UK-based EU organizations are planning or have implemented relocations to the continent. In anticipation of the approaching Brexit, the European Medicines Agency closed its London office with around 900 workstations on January 25, 2019 and moved it to Amsterdam .

    Trivia

    • The UK Treasury commissioned the government-owned Royal Mint to mint 50p - commemorative coins with - successively - three planned exit data. From the first variant with the date “29. March 2019 "only sample copies were minted.
    The coinage with the further planned exit date "31. October 2019 "was stopped in October 2019 and 1 million of these coins were melted down. On December 21, 2019, the commissioning of a heptagonal coinage with the Brexit date “31. January 2020 ”and the words (translated)“ Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations ”.
    • Due to the postponement of the exit date beyond March 30, 2019, the British authorities had passports issued without the imprint "European Union" even before the actual exit from the EU.

    Television games

    On January 7, 2019, the film Brexit: The Uncivil War was broadcast on the British television channel Channel 4 . The aim of the production is to reproduce what has happened so far, albeit in a dramatized manner. Benedict Cumberbatch and Rory Kinnear can be seen in leading roles , who represent real people in this fictional narrative: the heads of the respective campaigns, Dominic Cummings ("Leave") and Craig Oliver ("Remain").

    Documentaries

    Efforts to leave other European countries

    In some European countries there are groups that are also seeking to leave the European Union. Based on the term "Brexit" for the exit of the United Kingdom, we are talking about Danexit (Denmark), Dexit (Germany), Frexit (France), Grexit (Greece), Italexit (Italy), Nexit (Netherlands) or Öxit (Austria).

    literature

    Web links

    Wiktionary: Brexit  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

    Individual evidence

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