The UK has launched the formal process of withdrawal negotiations by formally announcing the European Council`s intention to leave the EU. This triggered Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union, which defines the procedure for the withdrawal of an EU member state, thus opening a two-year countdown to withdrawal. The agreement was revised as part of the Johnson Department renegotiation in 2019. The amendments amend about 5% of the text The final text of the withdrawal agreement signed in Brussels and London on 24 January 2020 and the Council`s (EU) 2020/135 decision on the conclusion of the withdrawal agreement, adopted yesterday, have been published. This Council decision explains the role of the Commission, Parliament and the Council itself in implementing the agreement. It also provides that the Council may, under certain conditions, allow the United Kingdom to declare its agreement on an exclusive EU competence by its own means, to be bound by an international agreement to enter into force or to be implemented during the transition period. Particular attention will be paid to the role of Ireland, the Republic of Cyprus and the Kingdom of Spain, which may ask the Council to negotiate, under certain conditions, bilateral agreements with the United Kingdom in areas exclusively within the EU`s jurisdiction. In accordance with the communication on the entry into force of the withdrawal agreement, also published in today`s Official Journal, the agreement will enter into force on 1 February 2020, in accordance with Article 185, paragraph 1. The withdrawal agreement provides for a transitional period until 31 December 2020, during which time the UK will remain in the internal market, to ensure the smooth flow of trade until a long-term relationship is concluded. If no agreement is reached by then, the UK will leave the single market without a trade deal on 1 January 2021. The withdrawal agreement is closely linked to a non-binding political declaration on future relations between the EU and the UK.
After an unprecedented vote on 4 December 2018, MEPs ruled that the UK government was not respecting Parliament because it refused to give Parliament full legal advice on the consequences of its proposed withdrawal terms.  The focus of the consultation was on the legal effect of the “backstop” agreement for Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom with regard to the customs border between the EU and the United Kingdom and its consequences on the Good Friday agreement which ended the unrest in Northern Ireland, including whether the UK would be assured, in accordance with the proposals, of being able to leave the EU in a practical sense.