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What do you need to know with regard to Brexit?

What is Brexit?

Brexit is the impending withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland  (UK) from the European Union (EU). On 29 March 2017, the UK Government informed the European Council about its intention to leave the EU. The United Kingdom will leave the EU on 29 March 2019. Until this date, the UK remains an EU Member State with all the rights and obligations associated with membership.

The withdrawal negotiations between the EU and the UK are carried out according to Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. On behalf of the EU, the negotiations are conducted by the European Commission, led by Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, on the basis of the guidelines agreed by the European Council of the EU27.



  • Approximately 90% of the provisions of the withdrawal agreement between the EU and the UK have been provisionally agreed by October.
  • A declaration on the framework for the future relationship of the EU and the UK will accompany the agreement. The declaration is a political agreement that will establish the framework for the formalisation of future agreements. Negotiations about the declaration are ongoing.
  • The Withdrawal Agreement must be ratified by the European Parliament and the UK Parliament in order to enter into force. If the agreement does not enter into force by 30 March 2019, the UK will no longer be a Member State of the EU as of this date and their relationship will be regulated by international law. Such a result is not the goal of either party, which is why the EU and the UK are making every effort to reach an agreement.
  • Any agreement(s) on the future relationships of the EU and the UK can only be negotiated and entered into force after the UK has become a third country. For example, an agreement on the future trade relationship can only be negotiated after 29 March 2019.  If the EU and the UK do not conclude a trade agreement, their trade relationships will be regulated by the rules and norms of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
  • The draft Withdrawal Agreement prescribes a transition period that will last from 30 March 2019 to 31 December 2020. During that period, EU law will apply to the UK as if it were still a Member State. However, certain exceptions will be applied during the transition period - for example, the UK will not participate in the decision-making process of the EU or vote in the European Parliament elections. During the transition period, the UK will still participate in the customs union and the common market of the EU, it must adhere to the trade policy of the EU and implement EU customs tariffs.
  • Chronology of negotiations
  • Brexit page of the European Commission



Preparations for Brexit


Preparations for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU have started in Member States in parallel with the completion of the negotiations. The preparations are coordinated by the European Commission by information exchange and publication of guidelines for national activities.

Various authorities in Estonia are also making the necessary preparations for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.






What will change in the status of Estonian and other EU citizens living in the United Kingdom after the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union (i.e. after 29.03.2019)?

  • Currently, the status of Estonian and other EU citizens remains the same as it was before the referendum of 23 June 2016. The United Kingdom will leave the European Union on 29 March 2019. Until this date, the UK remains an EU Member State with all the rights and obligations associated with membership (incl. the EU law on the free movement of persons).
  • The EU and the UK will conclude an agreement regarding the UK's withdrawal from the EU and the rights of citizens form a part of this. By now, the EU and the UK have reached a provisional agreement about the preservation of the rights of the EU citizens living in the UK. The parties aim to reach a final agreement before 29 March 2019.
  • The UK is planning to carry out a new registration process for citizens of the EU Member States for the right of residence, which is known as the EU settlement scheme. The electronic platform will be open for applications at the end of 2018 and remain operational 30 June 2021.

What will change for the citizens of the United Kingdom currently living in Estonia?

  • A transition period will start after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019, which will last until 31 December 2020. EU law will generally apply to UK citizens and their family members until the end of the transition period.
  • The citizens of the UK who live in Estonia can continue living here on the basis of a valid ID card. The family members of UK citizens who are citizens of third countries can stay in Estonia on the basis of their current residence permits. UK citizens and their family members who live in Estonia or arrive in Estonia before the end of the transition period do not have to start applying for a new basis to stay in Estonia (e.g. a residence permit) provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement.
  • We’re planning to start issuing the new document for the right of residence in Estonia in autumn 2020.




  • The UK will leave the EU on 29 March 2019. Pursuant to the negotiated Withdrawal Agreement, there will be a transition period that starts on 30 March 2019 and ends on 31 December 2020. The UK will remain a member of the internal market during this period and EU law will apply in and to the UK as it does today. After the end of the transition period, a future economic relationship should be regulated by a new agreement, which will be negotiated after the UK has left the EU. 
  • In the absence of an EU/UK agreement, the UK will become a third country for the EU and WTO regulations will apply to trade. The changes concern several sectors. It is estimated that the most evident changes will occur in relation to the movement of goods as well as in the transport and financial services sectors. The scope of the changes depends on connections with the UK market, the economic sector in question, the size of the company, etc.
  • We advise entrepreneurs to think about the following in order to manage risks:
    • find out how goods are currently exchanged with third countries (customs issues, mutual recognition, product labelling, standards, etc.);
    • keep an eye on developments in EU law (e.g. specific amendments in relation to Brexit may be introduced);
    • take a look at how the goods/services related to the market of the UK are covered in other international agreements of the EU;
    • sector-specific preparations could be initiated by comparing the EU law in your sector with thet EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement(CETA).
  • The European Commission has prepared technical Brexit preparedness notices in a number of areas that provide primary information about the impending changes and their possible consequences. The list of notices is regularly updated. More information can be found on the Brexit website of the EU Information Centre:

Relations between Estonia and the United Kingdom


An overview of the bilateral relations between Estonia and the UK, including our economic relationship and trade, can be found on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Further information

On 10 February 2017 the Minister of Foreign Affairs established a national working group for mapping the interests of Estonia and developing the positions of Estonia in the negotiations of the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. The working group, which consists of the representatives of all ministries, is led by Matti Maasikas, Undersecretary for EU Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Department for European Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Telephone: (372) 637 7260


Last updated: 30 October 2018

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