This chapter studies an innovative governance devise invented by the Brexit negotiators: transition — a stand-still period which will allow the UK to remain pro tempore part of the EU internal market and customs union despite being no longer a member state. On February 1, 2020, and ten months later than scheduled, the EU and the UK entered into a period of ‘transition’; a time between formal membership of the EU and the beginning of a new relationship. At one level, there is a certain taken-for-granted simplicity to the idea of managing not just an orderly exit of the UK from the EU but also the provision of continuity and certainty while the parties negotiate and decide their future relationship. But at another level, the formal terminology and indeed the metaphors used to describe this interim legal framework disclose some deeper tensions around the sequencing and organisation of the withdrawal process as well as the direction of travel of the parties. Transition was originally conceived as a bridge toward the future EU–UK relations, but the risks remain that it may turn into a bridge to nowhere — particularly if the period is not extended beyond December 31, 2020, given time-constraints for such new difficult negotiations.
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