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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (hereinafter “the United Kingdom”) officially declared on 29 March 2017 that it was withdrawing from the EU after a majority had voted in favour of this in a referendum held in June 2016. According to the EU Treaty, the United Kingdom’s membership automatically ends two years after the withdrawal declaration, unless a withdrawal agreement comes into force beforehand. This deadline was extended via a unanimous resolution of the 27 Heads of State and Government of the EU, in agreement with the United Kingdom.

By now, the United Kingdom has requested severalextensions of the withdrawal period. The European Council, in agreement with the United Kingdom, decided to extend the withdrawal period in order to allow the withdrawal agreement to be ratified. This extension is only to last as long as necessary, and should by no means extend beyond 31 January 2020.

What are the scenarios?

Scenario 1: A withdrawal agreement

The withdrawal agreement constitutes the agreement between the withdrawal candidate and the EU as provided for in the EU Treaty. It contains the conditions for separation and the arrangements for a transitional period. It is during this transitional period that the future relations are to be negotiated on. The withdrawal agreement negotiated between the EU and the United Kingdom provides for a transitional period until 31 December 2020, during which the regulations on the coordination of social security systems are to continue to apply (e.g. for tourists, posted workers, pensioners and students). These are Regulations (EC) No. 883/2004, (EC) No. 987/2009 and (EC) No. 574/72 in conjunction with Regulation (EEC) No. 1408/71. The agreement does not provide for the Patient Mobility Directive (Directive 2011/24/EU) to continue to apply.

The 27 Heads of State and Government of the EU approved the withdrawal agreement negotiated with the United Kingdom on 25 November 2018. In order to enter into force, the withdrawal agreement must also be approved by the UK Parliament and the European Parliament.

The UK Parliament has voted several times refusing to approve the withdrawal agreement with the EU. It now has until the withdrawal date currently applicalble to approve the withdrawal agreement. If the United Kingdom and the EU ratify the withdrawal agreement before that date, withdrawal will take place on the first day of the following month. The withdrawal agreement would then become applicable.

Scenario 2: A disorderly exit (no-deal Brexit)

If the United Kingdom does not agree to the withdrawal agreement by the withdrawal date currently applicable, withdrawal will take place without a withdrawal agreement. That means that there would be no rules for the separation and for a transitional period until such time as the future relations are settled.

Should it come to a disorderly Brexit, the Agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and Great Britain, dated 20 April 1960, relating to social security, might have to be applied again from the day after withdrawal, as the abovementioned regulations would cease to apply in relations with the United Kingdom from that time on. This legal question has not yet been conclusively resolved. We will provide you with up-to-date information on this as soon as we have it. If the German-British social security agreement is not applicable, the United Kingdom is to be regarded as a non-treaty foreign country, i.e. a country with which no agreement has been concluded on social security. The scope of the German-British social security agreement is not identical to that of the abovementioned European regulations. It does not for example cover unemployment and long-term care insurance.

The federal legislature has therefore adopted an additional Transitional Act in order to avoid such a regulatory void. This Act creates legal certainty for those who are particularly affected by withdrawal with regard to their insurance status, claims and benefits in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Scenario 3: An extension of the withdrawal period

The United Kingdom applied for an extension of the withdrawal period. This request was approved by the European Council. The withdrawal period has therefore been extended until 31 January 2020.

Scenario 4: Withdrawal from Brexit

The European Court of Justice has made it clear that the United Kingdom can unilaterally rescind its intention to leave the EU. Such a withdrawal from Brexit would be possible until the date on which the United Kingdom ceased to be a Member State of the EU, provided that a withdrawal agreement had not yet entered into force.

More information

You will find more information on the websites linked to below should you have any Brexit-related questions



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