The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill will be voted on by the UK Parliament before Exit Day (29th March 2019) to give Members of Parliament an opportunity to scrutinise the negotiated EU/UK deal (the “Future Relationship”?) and then subsequently enact the necessary legislation to bring it into effect (the implementation period, legal arrangements for the implementation period etc).

IIUC national parliaments in the EU must also have a chance to scrutinise and ratify the deal, in addition to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament because any such deal will contain financial services elements**.

But national parliaments will not have had the chance to ratify the deal before Exit Day, because to do so would be against EU law: no trade treaties can be agreed between member states.

So the UK Government will be passing the European Union Withdrawal Agreement Act 2019 on the basis of a deal that we do not know is acceptable to EU member parliaments.

Is my understanding correct?

Is this not extremely risky?

Why has the EU not simply amended (even temporarily) its legislation to permit the ratification by member state Parliaments before Exit Day (which would surely be a good-faith gesture)?

** apparently national parliaments must have a say because financial services can affect the “stability of a country” (source: David Davis)


1 Answer 1


Member states will send representatives to the EU, to sit on the Council (heads of state) and in Parliament (directly elected). They will be able to vote on the proposed deal and Council members may veto it if they wish.

National parliaments will be able to instruct their representatives on the Council. They may do that as they choose, e.g. via a debate or by the head of state acting unilaterally or as a party political issue.

Ratification comes later. Once the EU has agreed a new trade deal each member state must write it into its own law. The EU monitors states for compliance. Normally it's not an issue. In theory a state can refuse but in practice the time to do that is when things are moving through the EU system (Council, Parliament) and ratification is more of a formality.


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