Shortly after UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement that her government had backed a Brexit draft Withdrawal Agreement, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier briefed the press in Brussels about the key points of the 585-page deal.
According to what Barnier has presented to the Brussels press corps on Wednesday evening, the EU and the UK have agreed on five key points:
1) European citizens in the UK and British passport holders in the EU will continue to have the same rights that they enjoyed prior to Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc;
2) All financial commitments made at an EU-28 level will be honoured, meaning the UK will contribute to the commitments that it has already made to the EU budget.
3) All issues relating to protected Geographic Indicators (GIs), personal data, and individual agreements dealing with Euratom and other elements of the withdrawal process have been resolved.
4) The implementation of the agreement will be handled by a special committee charged with resolving cases where Community laws are in jeopardy. The European Court of Justice will continue to play its role as the interpreter of EU law;
5) A transitional period from March 29, 2019-December 31, 2020 where the current relationship between the EU and the UK will be maintained regarding the customs union and the single market. The two sides agreed that the transition period could be extended if both agree that more time is needed.
Barner also said both parties agreed on bilateral special protocols for Gibraltar and individual agreements between Spain and the UK agreements.
A protocol on the future of Britain’s large military bases on the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus was also includes and will allow for 11,000 Cypriot citizens to continue to reside in the areas where they are already registered as residents.
Barnier was particularly ebullient about the future of Ireland where, as he said, the two sides “found a way to avoid a hard border”.
“Our objective is to abolish customs duties and quotas for all goods based on what we’re proposing in the Withdrawal Agreement, a single customs territory,” said Barnier.
The backstop solution provides for a regulatory and customs harmonisation between Northern Ireland with the EU and guarantees that no hard border will appear between EU-member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which will remain a part of the UK. London will also be responsible for implementing community customs laws in Northern Ireland, while also continue to observe the rights of Irish citizen while they are on the Northern Irish side of the border.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker sent a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk recommending to the European Council that “decisive progress has been made in the negotiations on the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union”.
I have just sent a letter to @eucopresident recommending to the #EUCO #Article50 to find that decisive progress has been made in the negotiations on the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. #Brexit pic.twitter.com/7twf2adwkO
— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU) November 14, 2018