The U.K.’s Withdrawal from the E.U.

In June 2016, the United Kingdom voted to withdraw from the European Union, commencing a period of political and legal uncertainty as both parties began to plan for the disentanglement and negotiate a future relationship.  In briefest historical summary: on 29 March 2017, the U.K. notified the E.U. of its withdrawal under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, beginning the two-year notice period which was due to come to an end on 29 March 2019; three extensions were sought by the U.K. and granted by the E.U., setting Exit Day as 31 January 2020; a Withdrawal Agreement between the U.K. and E.U., accompanied by a Political Declaration of the future relationship, was agreed at the negotiator level and approved by the European Council in October 2019.  The Withdrawal Agreement must be approved by the U.K. Parliament and by the European Parliament ahead of Exit Day.  Should the Withdrawal Agreement be ratified by both Parliaments, the U.K. will leave the E.U. on 31 January and enter into a transitional—or implementation—period until 31 December 2020.

Many issues remain unknown.  The form of any future relationship and, in particular with regards to financial services, the provisions for the access to the E.U. market by U.K. firms will be negotiated during the implementation period.  The FMLC has also raised questions in the past about the U.K.’s obligations under other treaties or trade agreements, entered into before Brexit as a Member State, during the implementation period.

In the years since the referendum, the FMLC has strived to be prescient in its analysis of the legal, operational and market uncertainties arising from Brexit and, in keeping with its remit, has suggested mitigants or solutions by which these complexities might be resolved.  The FMLC’s Brexit Advisory Group, a group of experts in financial markets law established the day after the referendum, meets quarterly to advise the Committee on its work-programme.  Several research reports have been published, analysing legal uncertainties in respect of the U.K.’s future relationship with the E.U. and reviewing domestic legislative preparations for a “no deal” Brexit.  The FMLC has also written regularly to HM Government.  A full account of the Committee’s work on Brexit can be found here.

As the process for the U.K.’s withdrawal from the E.U. enters a new phase over the next few months, the FMLC stands ready to respond speedily to any legal uncertainties which might arise.  In its meeting on 31 May 2018, the Committee resolved to meet on an ad hoc basis, in addition to its scheduled bimonthly meetings, should the gravity of the legal complexities require the Committee’s full attention.  The FMLC is committed to ensuring legal certainty for the financial markets through and after the Brexit process and is keen to hear from market participants or representatives of HM Government where its contributions might have most impact.

Should you wish to draw the Committee’s attention to an issue of legal uncertainty, please write to the Secretariat at research@fmlc.org.