Brexit at last – what it means for Swiss-UK relations

After three and a half years of negotiations, the United Kingdom will officially cease to be a member of the European Union at 11.00 pm (GMT) / midnight (CET) today, 31 January 2020, after 47 years of membership.

Even though this is undoubtedly a historic moment, one does not need to expect any radical changes when waking up tomorrow morning as the feared no-deal scenario fortunately did not materialise. The EU Withdrawal Agreement was ratified by both the UK and European Parliaments this week. Hence, a transition or implementation period, as it is now known, will commence which will run until at least 31 December 2020. During this time, the United Kingdom, while no longer formally an EU member state, will remain in the customs union and the single market and will continue to apply EU law.

Switzerland, in the context of its ‘Mind the gap’ strategy, has made considerable efforts to ‘Brexit-proof’ its relationship with the United Kingdom and to ensure legal continuity by securing existing mutual rights and obligations. However, certain gaps remain and the future relationship between the two countries is likely to be impacted considerably by the outcome of the negotiations between the UK and the EU at the end of the implementation period.