EU, UK agree on terms of Brexit transition deal

20 March, 2018, 03:19 | Author: Darnell Patrick
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the Northern Ireland border issue must still be resolvedMore

The agreement must be approved by EU leaders meeting at the European Council summit on the 22nd and 23rd of this month.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said the agreement did little more than "paper over the cracks" between the two sides.

The idea was also deemed "unacceptable" by the pro-UK party in Northern Ireland that props up her government.

He said: "We agree today that the back stop solution must form part of the legal text of the withdrawal agreement".

Liam Fox, the secretary for global trade, will also be allowed to sign new trade deals to come into force in 2021. Britain's exit was officially set for March 29, 2019.

Earlier today, EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier told media with Brexit Secretary David Davis that none of this is legally binding until a whole treaty is ratified before Brexit a year from now.

He added the two sides were "steadfast" in their commitment to avoiding a hard border.

The draft legal text goes even further - saying the United Kingdom will even be able to implement these agreements before the end of the transition if the bloc allows.


"It is welcome that they have finally struck a deal on transition and now the government must prioritize negotiating a final agreement that protects jobs, the economy and guarantees there will be no hard border in Northern Ireland", said Starmer. However, Ireland is seeking an incentive clause in the new trade framework which would see it changed if Britain agreed to stay in the single market and customs union.

"We are really going forward", an European Union source said, however, referring to green parts in the text, in particular on Ireland's common travel areas and cross-border cooperation.

She said an European Union offer to keep Northern Ireland under European Union trade rules would isolate the province from the mainland. The UK will no longer participate in decision making processes and will no longer be a member state.

However, the British government has had to accept defeat on a series of demands, including on the prime minister's very public insistence that citizens arriving during the transition period would be treated differently to those already in the UK.

But James Stewart, Head of Brexit at KPMG said there is no legal certainty to key issues such as passporting, highlighting that the transition agreement has been just that, agreed, but not yet signed.

A report published by the group said there is "no evidence" of the technical solution promised by Ms May, to allow Northern Ireland to break free from the customs union and single market without the return of border posts and checks. In the light of this important agreement, which will be welcomed by all parties and could significantly mitigate cliff edge risks, authorities now need to decide if they need to wait for formal ratification of the agreement before they can adjust their Brexit implementation requirements.

But Scottish Tory MP Douglas Ross said: "There is no spinning this as a good outcome, it would be easier to get someone to drink a pint of cold sick than try to sell this as a success". The first round ended with Britain reluctantly agreeing to follow the EU's timeline for the rest of the negotiations.

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