The EU and the UK have taken “a decisive step” towards reaching a deal on the mechanics of Britain’s planned withdrawal from the bloc in March 2019, according to an announcement made in Brussels on Monday.
The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and his British colleague David Davis said the European Union and the UK have suggested that a general framework agreement on a “transition period” to maintain the status quo until December 31, 2020, almost another two years after Brexit becomes a reality.
Barnier and Davis, however, admitted that major issues still need to be resolved, but significant progress had been made and that “an agreement is close”. Their statement of optimism should be enough to allow the EU-27 to approve the proposed transitional phase when they meet in Brussels on Thursday.
On the most sensitive point of the negotiations, the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland remains unresolved, but both parties are committed to finding a solution that would not enforce a hard border between the two parts of the island and possibly inflame the tenuous peace between Ulster’s Catholics and Protestants.
Neither Barnier nor Davis, however, indicated what a future solution for the border might look like as goods, services, and people will need to pass through the border points on both sides in order to maintain the current regimen.
London appears to have completely capitulated, at least in substance, as immigrants from other EU countries will be able to continue to work and study freely in the UK with the same current rights, including the right to remain there forever acquiring a permanent residence. Similarly, it seems that the European Court of Justice will continue to have jurisdiction over the United Kingdom until the end of the transition.