The United Kingdom withdrew from the EU on 1 February 2020 and entered a ‘transition period’, which runs until 31 December 2020. During this period, albeit no longer a member of the EU, the UK remains part of the EU single market and customs union, and EU law remains applicable (with some exceptions). The Withdrawal Agreement is accompanied by a Political Declaration, which sets out the objectives for the future EU-UK relationship. According to the Withdrawal Agreement the parties will implement the agreement and negotiate the future relationship during the transition period.
On 25 February 2020, the Council of the EU authorised the European Commission to open negotiations on the future partnership agreement with the UK. The Commission is leading the negotiations on behalf of the EU, with Michel Barnier, the chief negotiator, heading the Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom (UKTF). The UK negotiating team is led by David Frost, EU adviser to the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. On 23 February, the UK published its objectives for the negotiations, which, as summarised in a speech by Mr Johnson, are geared towards achieving a deal similar to the one between Canada and the EU.
The Political Declaration provides that an agreement on fisheries should be reached before 1 July 2020 (point 74) in order for it to be implemented as of the following year. The Withdrawal Agreement (Article 132), for its part, states that an extension of the transition period, for up to one or two years, must be mutually agreed by 30 June 2020, including agreement on a UK financial contribution to the EU budget for the extended transition period.
Four rounds of negotiations have been scheduled so far. The first round took place from 2 to 5 March. The coronavirus pandemic then hit and the second round was postponed until 20 to 24 April. The third round took place from 11 to 15 May. The fourth round, the last before the two sides take stock of progress, ran from 2 to 5 June. The rounds are organised in bilateral sessions and agendas are publicly available. The second meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee, which oversees and monitors the application of the Withdrawal Agreement, is due to take place on 12 June (following the first meeting on 30 March). As it is for the Joint Committee to take the decision on an extension, any request for such an extension would be expected at that meeting. Finally, the high-level conference envisaged in the Political Declaration, at which representatives of the EU and the UK will take stock of progress in the negotiations, is due to take place around the time of the European Council meeting on 19 June.