On 29 March 2017, the UK government gave formal notice to the other EU member states that the UK is leaving the EU. That started the two-year negotiating period during which the UK government hopes to agree to not only the UK’s withdrawal (“divorce”) agreement, but also a new trading relationship, plus a transitional agreement, with the EU going forward.
This is hugely ambitious, and at this stage, the worst-case scenario — that there will be no trade or transitional arrangement in place with the EU from March 2019 — seems the most likely result. The EU and UK would then trade with each other on the basis of the World Trade Organization rules, with or without UK “schedules” (specific commitments in various areas) in place.
EU and UK competition law continues to apply in the normal way and will do so until the UK actually leaves the EU. Nevertheless, there are various competition-law-related issues to keep in mind pre-Brexit (see our previous alert on this topic).