The withdrawal agreement & transition period

The Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration
On 17 October 2019 the UK and EU reached agreement on the UK's withdrawal from the European Union, following several failed attempts to secure UK parliamentary approval for the initial deal. The agreement comprises the revised Political Declaration and new Withdrawal Agreement.

The Withdrawal Agreement runs to 541 pages and sets out arrangements for:

  • The UK's exit on 31 January 2020
  • A 'transition period' until 31 December 2020
  • Financial arrangements, protection of citizen's rights and the new Irish protocol

The Political Declaration runs to 30 pages and sets out the outlines for a longer-term UK/EU deal. Negotiations are ongoing, and the UK is looking to reach an agreement by 15 October 2020.

The Transition Period
The transition arrangements mean that the issues for English colleges in the short-term are fairly straightforward:

  • For the remainder of 2020, colleges need to prepare for future changes but freedom of movement, the immigration system, employment rules and education funding arrangements remain the same.
  • The UK continues to participate in EU programmes like ESF and Erasmus+ until December 2020 (as agreed in articles 137 and 138 of the withdrawal agreement).
  • The EU Settlement Scheme is open for EU nationals resident in the UK who wish to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. This process (governed by articles 13 to 23 of the withdrawal agreement) continues until June 2021 and while it does, it means no substantial changes to the employment rules or education funding arrangements for EU nationals. If an individual can show they have lived in the UK for 5 years, they can qualify for 'settled status'. If less than 5 years, 'pre-settled status'.

To assist with their planning, colleges may wish to refer to the UK Government's general transition guidance and the transition period guidance for further education providers.