On 30 January 2020, the Council adopted, by written procedure, the decision to conclude the withdrawal agreement on behalf of the European Union.. This follows the European Parliament’s vote of consent on 29 January and the signature of the withdrawal agreement by the EU and the United Kingdom on 24 January. The withdrawal agreement ensures an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union. It covers citizens’ rights, the financial settlement, a transition period, protocols on Ireland/Northern Ireland, Cyprus and Gibraltar, governance and other separation issues.
On 31 January 2020, at midnight in Brussels (11 p.m. in the UK), the United Kingdom officially left the European Union, after having been a member for 47 years. There will be a transition period which will end on 31 December 2020, during which very little will change. During the transition period, the UK will continue to apply Union law but it will no longer be represented in the EU institutions. The transition period can be extended once for a period of up to one or two years, if both sides agree to this before 1 July 2020. The negotiations on the future partnership between the EU and the UK will start once the UK has left the EU. The framework for this future relationship was set out in the political declaration agreed by both sides in October 2019. During the transition period, the UK will try to negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU.