On 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom notified the European Council of its intention to leave the European Union and commenced the two-year countdown that an exiting Member State has to negotiate an exit deal.  Once this clock starts, it can't be stopped except by unanimous consent of all member states.

Unless a ratified withdrawal agreement establishes another date or the European Council, in accordance with Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union and in agreement with the United Kingdom, unanimously decides that the Treaties cease to apply at a later date, all Union primary and secondary law will cease to apply to the United Kingdom from 30 March 2019, 00:00h (CET) ('the withdrawal date'). The United Kingdom will then become a third country and from this point onwards, all Union primary and secondary law will cease to apply to the United Kingdom.

•         A withdrawal agreement requires approval of the European Parliament (by simple majority) and approval of the Council by qualified majority vote (20 of the 27 Member States representing at least 65% of their combined population). There is no requirement for a withdrawal agreement to be ratified by the 27 Member States individually.

•         As regards the UK, the EU Withdrawal Act provides for Parliament to have a 'meaningful' vote on the draft agreement before it is considered by the European Parliament. 

What Next?

If the Withdrawal Agreement is agreed and ratified before the deadline of 30 March 2019, most of the legal effects of Brexit will apply as of 1 January 2021.  This is a transition period of 21 months and its terms are set out in the draft Withdrawal Agreement.

The future relationship between the EU and the UK can only be negotiated after the UK has left the EU.

In the absence of a Withdrawal Agreement, there will be no transition period and EU law will cease to apply to and in the UK as of 30 March 2019.

The EU Commission has stated that even if the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified and an agreement on the future relationship is successfully concluded during the transition period, UK will ultimately not be a Member State of the EU.

While uncertainty remains concerning the final outcome of the negotiations between the EU and the UK on the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement and what the future trading relationship between the EU and UK will ultimately look like, Irish businesses need to proactively take steps to get Brexit ready.

Commission Papers

Did you know that the European Commission (EC) has issued a number of notices to businesses and manufacturers on how best to prepare for Brexit? 

The full list can be viewed here: European Commission > Brexit preparedness

The notices state that given the considerable uncertainties, in particular concerning the content of a possible withdrawal agreement, product manufacturers who sell into the Single Market should ensure that their product certification remains valid after the withdrawal date, currently 30 March 2019.


The NSAI Brexit Factsheets are designed to provide concise and clear information on a number of different sectors and likely potential Brexit impacts.  The Factsheets are dynamic documents and will be updated as events unfold.  They are not standalone documents but are intended to complement  Brexit guidelines and information prepared by other Government Departments and State agencies.

Current factsheets include:

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