During the transition period, the UK was unable to conclude its own trade agreements with third countries (although it was able to negotiate and ratify them until they entered into force during the transition period). However, this did not mean that the UK would automatically continue to benefit from eu trade agreements with third countries. The Gibraltar Protocol shall apply until the end of the transitional period, with the exception of the provisions relating to citizens` rights, which shall continue thereafter. The Protocol regulates the preparation of the application of the part of citizens` rights of the Withdrawal Agreement and allows the application of Union law at Gibraltar airport if the United Kingdom and Spain reach an agreement on this matter; establishes cooperation between Spain and the United Kingdom in tax, environmental protection and fisheries matters, as well as in police and customs matters. The Memoranda of Understanding between the United Kingdom and Spain facilitate cooperation at operational level between the competent authorities of Gibraltar and Spain, including through the establishment of joint committees on citizens` rights, the environment, police, customs and tobacco. The Northern Ireland Protocol, known as the “Irish backstop”, was an annex to the November 2018 draft agreement that outlined provisions to prevent a hard border in Ireland after the United Kingdom`s withdrawal from the European Union. The Protocol contains a provision on a safety net to deal with circumstances in which other satisfactory arrangements have yet to enter into force at the end of the transition period. This project has been replaced by a new protocol which will be described below. The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, officially an agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, is a treaty between the European Union (EU), Euratom and the United Kingdom (UK), signed on 24 January 2020, which sets out the conditions for the United Kingdom`s withdrawal from the EU and Euratom. The text of the treaty was published on 17 October 2019 and is a renegotiated version of an agreement published six months earlier. The previous version of the Withdrawal Agreement was rejected three times by the House of Commons, leading Queen Elizabeth II to accept Theresa May`s resignation as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and to appoint Boris Johnson as the new Prime Minister on 24 July 2019.
At the time of its withdrawal from the EU, the UK`s relationship with the EU was governed by the Withdrawal Agreement, an international treaty negotiated between the UK and the EU during the withdrawal period. The Withdrawal Agreement was introduced as follows: The November 2018 version of the Withdrawal Agreement provided for a transition period (called by the UK Government implementation period) from 31 March 2019, the original date on which the UK was to leave the EU, to 31 December 2020. The transitional provisions were incorporated into the Withdrawal Agreement in October 2019, with the possibility of extending them by mutual agreement. This option had to be exercised before July 1, 2020, which was not the case. In fact, the government has passed laws to prevent any minister from agreeing to an extension of the transition period. The NI protocol, known as the “backstop,” is supposed to be temporary and valid unless it is replaced by a future relationship agreement that the parties will seek to conclude by December 31, 2020. The Protocol foresees that the common travel area and North-South cooperation will continue to a large extent as before, as will the internal electricity market (so that some EU legislation on wholesale electricity markets will continue to apply). MPs and the government were not prepared to risk the economic consequences of a no-deal Brexit at the time and an extension of the withdrawal period under Article 50 TEU was secured to allow more time to obtain MPs` consent to the Withdrawal Agreement. The first extension lasted until April 12, 2019, another until October 31, 2019.
The Withdrawal Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom sets out the conditions for an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU in accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. Immediately after the announcement of a revised withdrawal agreement on 17 October 2019, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the DUP declared that they could not support the new agreement.  A footnote to Article 129(1) of the Withdrawal Agreement provided that the EU would inform counterparties to its trade agreements that the UK should be treated as if it were still a member of the EU during the transition period. However, this was essentially a request to third countries to treat the United Kingdom as such and they were not obliged to do so. More generally, the UK continued to be bound by the EU`s obligations under international agreements. It continued the application of the EU`s Common Foreign and Security Policy, including the implementation of the EU sanctions regime. The UK could refrain from certain measures under the EU`s Common Security and Defence Policy. The inclusion of the deal in the House of Commons ranged from cold to hostile and the vote was delayed by more than a month. Prime Minister May won a no-confidence motion against her own party, but the EU refused to accept further changes. The UK`s formal withdrawal from the EU entered into force on 31 January 2020 (withdrawal day) at 11pm.m. At that time, the withdrawal period provided for in Article 50 TEU ended and the ratified Withdrawal Agreement, which sets out the legal conditions for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, entered into force. The ratified Withdrawal Agreement was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on the day of the withdrawal, together with the Political Declaration on the Framework for the Future Relationship between the UK and the EU: the 2019 revisions also adapted elements of the Political Declaration by replacing the word `adequate` with `adequate` as regards labour standards.
According to Sam Lowe, Trade Fellow at the Centre for European Reform, the change excludes labour standards from dispute resolution mechanisms.  In addition, the level playing field mechanism has moved from the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement to the Political Declaration and the line in the Political Declaration that “the UK will consider aligning itself with EU legislation in relevant areas” has been deleted.  Once the arbitration panel has made a decision, the parties will negotiate a “reasonable” timeline for its implementation (Article 176). If no consensus can be reached, the question of what a reasonable period of time is will be referred to the panel. Each transposition period may be extended by mutual agreement (Article 176(5)). The United Kingdom will be able to conclude trade agreements with third countries; However, the customs union would significantly limit the UK`s ability to have significantly different trade relations with them, particularly with regard to goods. The UK would have more opportunities to offer different conditions for trade in services and in areas such as government procurement. Free movement will continue until the end of the transition period (or transposition period) and EU and UK nationals will be able to travel to the UK or Member States, as currently permitted by EU law. EU citizens living in their host country before the end of the transition have a right of permanent residence under the Withdrawal Agreement, subject to certain requirements. Under the agreement, the UK and EU27 have the discretion to require EU or UK nationals to apply for a new residence status.
The UK has decided to implement a system requiring EU citizens to apply for a new residency status, known as “regulated” or “pre-regulated” status. It is still unclear whether each of the sius-27 will exercise its discretion under the Withdrawal Agreement to require UK residents to apply for new residency status. On October 22, 2019, the House of Commons voted by 329 votes to 299 to give a second reading to the revised withdrawal agreement (negotiated by Boris Johnson earlier this month), but when the accelerated timetable he proposed did not receive the necessary parliamentary support, Johnson announced that the legislation would be suspended.   Provisions on bilateral cooperation in the fields of citizens` rights, certain products, the environment, police and customs, as well as a bilateral agreement on taxation and the protection of financial interests. The Withdrawal Agreement also contains provisions allowing the United Kingdom to let the United Kingdom link the Statute of the European Schools to the United Kingdom by the Convention and the accompanying rules for accredited European Schools until the end of the last academic year of the transition period, i.e. until the end of the 2020-2021 spring semester.  Following the first round of withdrawal negotiations, the UK and the EU set out an agreed approach to the Financial Regulation in the December 2017 Joint Report. .