Following a series of intensive negotiations between the European Commission and the UK, an agreement was reached on 17 October 2019 in respect of a revised Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland and a revised Political Declaration.
The revised Protocol aims at providing a legally operational solution that avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland, protects the all-island economy and the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement in all its dimensions and safeguards the integrity of the Single Market.
All other elements of the Withdrawal Agreement remain unchanged in substance, as per the agreement reached on 14 November 2018, which should bring legal clarity to areas where the UK’s withdrawal from the EU creates uncertainty: citizens’ rights, the financial settlement, a transition period at least until the end of 2020, governance, Protocols on Gibraltar and Cyprus, as well as a range of other separation issues.
Under the Withdrawal Agreement, there is still no section specifically dedicated to financial services. Financial services are nevertheless mentioned in the Political Declaration. As such, the Withdrawal Agreement with the attached Political Agreement provides for a transition period until, at least, the end of 2020, during which the future relationship and the specific rules for the future of financial markets and financial sector actors will have to be negotiated. During the transition period, the current rules and regulations applicable to financial services remain in force.
The current revised set of Brexit documentation remains subject to approval by the respective EU and UK Parliament. The expected timeline for the process is as follows:
- On 17 October 2019, the European Council is expected to endorse the revised Withdrawal Agreement and approve the revised Political Declaration.
- On 19 October 2019, the UK Parliament is expected to vote on the revised Withdrawal Agreement.
- The Council of the European Union must authorise the signature of the Withdrawal Agreement, before sending it to the European Parliament for its consent.