On Monday 29th January 2018, the European Union issued its agreed negotiation guidelines for a proposed temporary 21 month transition period after the UK's 'exit day' in March 2019.
EU27 ministers approved guidelines laying out the terms of the UK’s transition period, which will last from 31 March 2019 to 31 December 2020.
The proposal is that the UK would need to continue to implement all new EU laws during the transition period, but without the role to influence the draft legislation which the UK currently enjoys as a full member.
If the UK agrees with the guidelines, the transition agreement would help to give UK plc valuable time to prepare for any complete departure from the EU. Until the end of 2020, EU legislation would continue to apply as it does today and the UK will continue to take part in the single market, customs union and all EU policy.
During this period, the intention is to help UK business avoid a regulatory 'cliff edge'. If the negotiation guidelines are not accepted by the UK Government – and early signs are that this could be the case – the whole scope of any transition period may need to be looked at again. Meanwhile, the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill continues its passage through the House of Lords, with wide ranging issues and changes already being proposed.
Industry, including the CBI as well as other business groups, have recently reaffirmed the need for certainty for businesses across the UK – both those trading in and with the EU, and/or reliant on other EU member states for their supply chains.
Board awareness of the likely scope of change is essential – whether people based, supply chain related, or even territorial. Whatever changes may be implemented, UK businesses are now very focused on ensuring that they are as prepared as they can be. Although "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed", the hope of a time limited transition period gives business valuable short term certainty and thinking time to prepare for the future.
You can read more about preparing for Brexit here.