Virginia, US

Dec 19 2017

Second Phase of Brexit Negotiations to Begin

European Union, United Kingdom

Executive Summary

The European Council has agreed to move to the second phase of Brexit negotiations because sufficient progress on the Withdrawal Agreement has been reached. The next phase will focus on negotiating the transition period and the framework of the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom.

The situation

The European Council has concluded that the second phase of Brexit negotiations can begin and confirmed that additional guidelines for talks will be issued in March.  Negotiations in January will focus on the transition period.

Transition period

  • Timing. The transition period is expected to begin in March 2019 and end in March 2021. During the transition period, the United Kingdom is expected to remain part of the European Union’s Single Market (including free movement of goods, capital, services, and labour), but will not participate in the EU decision-making process.
  • Next step. The European Commission must put forward recommendations for the transitional arrangements, which the Council is expected to adopt in January 2018.


Future EU-UK relationship

  • Timing. An agreement on the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union can only be concluded when the United Kingdom is no longer part of the European Union.  
  • At the end of the transition period, the United Kingdom does not wish to remain part of the Single Market. Furthermore, the European Council highlighted that the European Union is ready to establish partnerships with the United Kingdom unrelated to trade and economic cooperation (in areas such as the fight against terrorism, international crime, security, defense and foreign policy). We note that migration is not part of these fields.
  • Next step. The European Council will adopt additional guidelines regarding the framework of the future relationship in March 2018.



The European Council met after the negotiators of the EU and UK governments released a joint report on progress made during the first phase of negotiations under Article 50 on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

To access a single, trusted source of information and developments as they happen, visit our dedicated Brexit website. This website includes news, FAQs, and analysis/commentary in the form of blogs, videos, webcasts and events.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to