During November 2018, the UK government released details of a withdrawal agreement setting out the terms of its exit from the EU in March 2019. This agreement has also now been agreed by the other 27 EU member states governments.
The agreement includes the previously stated 19-month transition period for VAT purposes, which means that the UK will remain within the EU VAT, Customs and Excise regime until at least 31 December 2020. Please see our previous article here for further detail regarding this transition period.
It also included a ‘Backstop’ protocol to maintain a long-term open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. This protocol states that if the EU and UK could not agree on a frictionless-trade solution after the transition period, then Northern Ireland would remain in the EU customs union for goods only and the details of how this will work will be agreed after the March 2019 Brexit deadline by a joint Withdrawal Committee.
The agreement now needs to be agreed by UK parliament and if accepted will be adopted into UK legislation prior to the March 2019 Brexit deadline.