Brexit: Timetable 2020 to 2021

Last updated - 4:30pm, 22 December 2020

In Spring 2020, global events arose of such significance they eclipsed developments in the negotiation of UK's departure from the European Union. The spread of Coronavirus and the global response to this health crisis resulted in Brexit losing its prominence in the news headlines. The Brexit process has however been continuing behind the scenes, and the end of the transition period, on 31 December 2020, is now only short time away. As a refresher, here we look at the developments in the Brexit process which took place during 2020 and we highlight the key future dates.

8 January 2020 - 22 January 2020

The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill makes its passage between the House of Lords and the House of Commons. This legislation is intended to implement the Withdrawal Agreement as negotiated by the UK and the EU, thereby giving legal authority under UK domestic legislation to the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement. The House of Lords approve an amendment providing for EU nationals living in the UK to receive a physical document showing they have the right to reside in the UK.MPs in the House of Commons subsequently vote to remove each amendment.

23 January 2020

The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill receives Royal Assent and becomes an Act of Parliament: the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020.

24 January 2020

EU Presidents, Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson sign the Withdrawal Agreement with the date of the UK's departure from the EU set as 31 January 2020.

29 January 2020

The deal is approved by the European Parliament.

30 January 2020

The Withdrawal Agreement is ratified by the EU.

31 January 2020

At 11pm, the UK leaves the EU.

1 February 2020

The transition period commences. The transition period is intended to be a period during which the UK and EU will negotiate and, hopefully, reach agreement on the terms of their future relationship, based on the outline set out in the Political Declaration. The Political Declaration is a non-binding statement of intent setting out the agreed intentions for the future economic and security partnership between the UK and the EU. The transition period is due to last until 31 December 2020.

3 February 2020

In a Written Statement, the Prime Minister sets out the Government's proposed approach to the negotiations with the EU about the future relationship. The European Commission issues a recommendation to the European Council to open negotiations on a new partnership with the UK.

27 February 2020

The Government publishes a paper on The Future Relationship with the EU The UK's Approach to Negotiations.

18 March 2020

The European Commission publishes a draft legal agreement covering the future EU-UK partnership.

March - June 2020

The global Coronavirus pandemic causes negotiations to stall. The second and third rounds of negotiations proceed in April and May 2020 but progress is slow as European leaders are preoccupied with the response to the pandemic.

19 May 2020

The UK Government publishes the ten draft treaty texts it has tabled in the future relationship negotiations.

20 May 2020

The Government publishes its approach to implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol.

2 -5 June 2020

The fourth round of UK-EU future relationship negotiations takes place.

15 June 2020

Frustrated by the pace of negotiations, Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets EU leaders and asks them to “put a tiger in the tank”.

29 June - 3 July 2020

The fifth round of UK-EU future relationship negotiations takes place.

30 June 2020

The deadline to request an extension to the transition period passes without an extension being requested. The UK Government had made it clear that they did not intend to request an extension and intend to leave the EU fully on 31 December 2020, with or without a trade agreement in place.

16 July 2020

The Government publishes a White Paper on the UK Internal Market, setting out policy options to protect the flow of goods and services across the UK after the end of the transition period.

20-23 July 2020

The sixth round of UK-EU future relationship negotiations takes place.

18-21 August 2020

The seventh round of UK-EU future relationship negotiations takes place.

8-10 September 2020

The eighth round of UK-EU future relationship negotiations takes place.

9 September 2020

The UK Internal Market Bill is introduced and receives strong criticism from EU Leaders and the leaders of the devolved government for Scotland, as it could seek to re-write parts of the Withdrawal Agreement. As the Withdrawal Agreement has been ratified in the EU and the UK, this could breach international law. Brazenly, the UK Government admits that its plans would break international law.

10 September 2020

The Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee meets to discuss the UK Internal Market Bill and the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Government publishes its legal position on the UK Internal Market Bill and Northern Ireland Protocol. European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič meets Michael Gove in London for an extraordinary meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee. Vice-President Šefčovič states that if the Bill were to be adopted, it would constitute an extremely serious violation of the Withdrawal Agreement and of international law.

11 September 2020

Leaders at the European Parliament say they will refuse to give consent to a future deal between the EU and UK if London attempts to override the Withdrawal Agreement.

16 September 2020

The European Commission President, President Ursula von der Leyen, warns the UK Government against backtracking on the Withdrawal Agreement, saying the Withdrawal Agreement had been ratified by MEPs and MPs and could not be “unilaterally changed, disregarded or disapplied” and that “this is a matter of law and trust and good faith.”

29 September 2020

The UK Internal Market Bill passes its Third Reading by 340 votes to 256 and moves from the House of Commons to the House of Lords.

29 September 2020 - 2 October 2020

The ninth round of UK-EU future relationship negotiations takes place.

1 October 2020

The European Commission President announces the EU will initiate legal proceedings to prevent the UK attempting to override the Withdrawal Agreement.

8 October 2020

The Government publishes an updated GB-EU Border Operating Model, providing further detail for businesses and passengers on how the GB-EU border will operate after the end of the transition period.

15 - 16 October

European Council summit. Parliament's President, David Sassoli conveyed Parliament's support for a trade agreement with the UK with 'free and fair competition at its core'. EU leaders reaffirmed the EU's determination to have as close as possible a partnership with the United Kingdom Unresolved issues include the level playing field, governance and fisheries. The European Parliament urged the UK to remove the controversial provisions from the UK Internal Market Bill.

23 October 2020

Signature of the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, the UK's first major trade deal as an independent trading nation.

8 December 2020

The UK Government has announced that it will withdraw the controversial provisions (clauses 44, 45 and 47) of the UK Internal Market Bill following agreement in principle between the UK and EU on the operation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

First half of December 2020

Agreement of a number of continuity agreements, retaining existing trading conditions for an interim period whilst fuller trade deals are negotiated, including for Canada, Iceland, Norway, Mexico and Singapore, together with a services mobility agreement with Switzerland.

10 December 2020

Publication of European Commission's contingency measures to preserve basic reciprocal air and road connectivity and reciprocal fishing access between EU and UK.

14 - 17 December 2020

Final European Parliament plenary session of the year; the last opportunity to give consent to any UK-EU agreement before the end of the transition period passes without any such agreement having been reached.

17 December 2020

The United Kingdom's Internal Markets Act 2021 receives Royal Assent, aiming to preserve the UK internal market following expiry of the transition period.

Future key dates 2020 - 2021

December 2020

Ongoing negotiations? Conclusion and ratification of an agreement? Preparations to depart without a deal?

31 December 2020

Implementation Period (IP) completion day (11pm): The transition period ends. If a UK-EU trade deal is not in place, UK-EU trade will rely on WTO rules. The UK's full economic and political independence from the EU commences, moving the UK from transitional to full third country status outside the EU single market and customs union. In relation to domestic legislation made before IP completion day, the principle of EU law supremacy will still apply. Domestic enactments made after IP completion day will take precedence over retained EU law. The framework for Brexit-related legislation and retained EU law in the UK is set out in The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, as amended by its 2020 update.

1 January 2021

New agreement on UK-EU relations could enter into force, if an agreement has been reached and ratified. Importers of standard goods can defer full customs declarations, and payment of import duty, for up to six months from date of import.

1 July 2021

Ability to delay customs declarations and payment of import duty no longer applies.  Imported goods must be imported under either the temporary storage or pre-lodgement model.  Safety and security declarations must now be made for any imports from the EU to the UK.

30 July 2021

Deadline for European nationals and their family members, living in the UK prior to 31 December 2020 to apply for status on the EU Settlement Scheme.


The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.