Will Brexit affect your EWC?

Will Brexit affect your EWC?

Today is a historic day!  It is the day that the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.  During the time-limited transition period that starts on 1 February 2020, it is ‘business as usual’ for the Internal Market, EWCs, citizens, consumers, businesses, investors, students and researchers in the EU and the UK. The Commission will adopt comprehensive draft negotiating directives on 3 February. It will then be up to the General Affairs Council to adopt this mandate. Formal negotiations with the UK can then begin. During the transition period, the UK will no longer be represented in the EU institutions, agencies, bodies and offices. However, EU and EWC legislation/Agreements continue to apply until:

  • a ‘new and fair’ partnership is negotiated based on the Political Declaration agreed between the EU and the United Kingdom in October 2019
  • the end of the transition period, i.e. until 31 December 2020, unless…an extension is agreed before July 2020. If an extension is jointly agreed by the EU and the UK, this would prolong said transition period until 31 December 2021 or 31 December 2022.


The status of the United Kingdom during the transition period

As of 1 February 2020, the United Kingdom will no longer be a Member State of the European Union and of the European Atomic Energy Community, or participate in the EU institutions (such as the European Parliament and the Council), EU agencies, offices or other bodies.

However, throughout the transition period, all institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the European Union continue to hold the powers conferred upon them by EU law with regards to the UK and to natural and legal persons residing or established there. The EU Court of Justice still has jurisdiction over the UK during the transition period.

Obligations of the United Kingdom during the transition period

As explained above, EU law remains applicable to and in the United Kingdom. This does not include provisions of the Treaties and acts which were not binding upon and in the UK before the Withdrawal Agreement entered into force.

Our recommendation for EWCs including UK members and EWCs with an Agreement under UK law

After the transition period, the position of the UK and UK EWC members will depend on how the EWC Agreement defines its geographical scope, and whether it includes the UK or not.  Therefore, if not yet done already, we recommend that companies and EWC members dig up their EWC Agreement and check if there is a need to adapt it to clarify the future position of the UK and its employees. 

During the transition period, there is no legal need yet for EWC Agreements under UK law, to move to another legal base. However, once this period is over, it seems likely that EWC Agreements will need to operate under the legislation of countries within the European Economic Area. This will of course not be the case if -during the negotiations on their new and fair partnership- the EU and the UK make provisions that continue covering the UK under the EWC Directive.

Would you like some guidance and advice on the situation of your specific EWC? Reach out to our EWC consultants now.

For more detailed (not EWC-specific) information on Brexit, visit this page on the European Commission’s website.



Contact your EWC consultant!