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'Damage control' Brexit agreement as UK ministers resign

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'Damage control' Brexit agreement as UK ministers resign

Michel Barnier - Photo EC

(BRUSSELS) - Following Wednesday's agreement between EU Commission and the United Kingdom on the terms of the Article 50 Withdrawal Agreement, ministers have resigned including the Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab.

The agreement marks a decisive moment in the negotiations, said the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier, with all aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement now finalised and agreed at negotiator level.

However, "there is a long road ahead", he continued: "Much work still needs to be done to guarantee an orderly withdrawal and further down the line, to build an ambitious and lasting partnership with the United Kingdom."

The Commission is recommending to the European Council (Article 50) to find that decisive progress has been made in the negotiations on the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, allowing the negotiations on the withdrawal agreement to be concluded and the next step of the process to be initiated. The negotiators have also agreed on an outline of the political declaration on the future EU-UK relationship.

The Withdrawal Agreement covers all elements of the UK's withdrawal from the EU: citizens' rights, the financial settlement, a transition period, governance, Protocols on Ireland, Gibraltar and Cyprus, as well as a range of other separation issues.

The EU and the UK negotiators have agreed on how to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Both will use their best endeavours to have a future agreement concluded before the end of the transition period by 1 July 2020. Should this not be the case, the EU and the UK could jointly extend the transition period. Alternatively, as of January 2021, the backstop solution for Ireland and Northern Ireland would apply, subject to a joint review mechanism.

That backstop solution means that a single EU-UK customs territory will be established, which will apply from the end of the transition period until such a time as a subsequent agreement becomes applicable. Northern Ireland will therefore remain part of the same customs territory as the rest of the UK. The single customs territory covers all goods with the exception of fishery and aquaculture products.

The creation of the single customs territory includes the corresponding level playing field commitments and appropriate enforcement mechanisms to ensure fair competition between the EU27 and the UK.

The outline of the political declaration published today records the progress in reaching an overall understanding on the framework for the future EU-UK relationship. The EU and UK negotiators will continue their work based on the outline.

Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. The present Withdrawal Agreement – including the transition period – must take into account the framework of the future relationship. The political declaration must therefore be further developed and agreed in its final form.

In parallel, the European Commission will continue its preparedness and contingency work for all eventualities.

Brexit Negotiations: What is in the Withdrawal Agreement

Text of the finalised Withdrawal Agreement


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