On 10 April 2019, the European Council and the UK government agreed a new, flexible extension of the Article 50 period.
This extension will last only for as long as necessary and, in any event, no longer than 31 October 2019.
What does this mean?
The UK now has the following options:
- Ratify the Withdrawal Agreement by 31 October 2019
In this case, the UK would leave the EU in an orderly manner on the first day of the month following ratification.
The Withdrawal Agreement includes a transition period until (currently) 31 December 2020, during which free movement continues. This means that, until the end date of the transition period, UK nationals will still be able to enter the EU and start living and working there, on the same conditions as they can currently, as EU nationals. The same applies for EU nationals moving to the UK.
Special registration schemes will be put in place both in the EU member states and the UK to protect the rights of people arriving in country during the transition period. Note that the end date of the transition period might be delayed due to the delay of Brexit (to be confirmed).
- Leave the EU without an agreement
This could occur on 1 June 2019 if the UK fails to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement by 22 May 2019, and fails to hold the elections to the European Parliament in accordance with Union law on 23-26 May 2019. In this case, the measures established by EU member states and the UK for a no deal scenario would take effect as of 1 June 2019. However, this seems unlikely, as the UK government has already laid the necessary legislation allowing the UK to take part in the 2019 European Parliament elections; OR
This could occur on 1 November 2019 if the UK fails to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement by 31 October 2019. In this case, the measures established by EU member states and the UK for a no deal scenario would take effect as of 1 November 2019. However, it is possible that, with more time to prepare, member states would make amendments to their no deal measures.
- Request another extension of the Article 50 period before 31 October 2019
- Revoke Article 50 – this would cancel Brexit altogether, effectively cancelling Brexit; in this case, all remains as is now
The European Council attached several conditions to this extension:
- The EU will not reopen negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement, but it can discuss changes to the non-binding Political Declaration on the future relationship.
- There will be a review at the European Council meeting at the end of June 2019, to take stock of progress.
- The UK must continue to be a member state of the EU, with a "duty of sincere cooperation” (no filibustering or vetoing of Council decisions) and will remain a full member of the bloc with all voting rights.
- To avoid problems in a no-deal Brexit scenario, ensure all UK employees residing in an EU member state, and EU citizens resident in the UK, and their family members, have submitted registration applications (where applicable) by Brexit day
- Affected employees should begin gathering documents in support of possible future immigration applications. These documents may include copies of passport data pages, marriage and birth certificates for accompanying family members, employment contracts or assignment letters, CV/resume, current job description, educational certificates, police clearance certificates, rental contract, proof of health insurance and payslips
- If possible, bring forward any planned movements of UK nationals to the EU and EU citizens to the UK
- Be prepared for possible lengthy immigration application requirements in any eventual no-deal outcome