Commission’s new draft Brexit deal leaves little room for optimism

LAURENT DUBRULE

(FILE) - A file picture dated 26 January 2016 shows a British Union flag flutters next to European Union (EU) flags ahead a visit of the Prime Minister (at the time) David Cameron at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium. Britain is the first-ever country to leave the EU after a narrow majority voted to leave in a UK-wide referendum held on 23 June 2016. The 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome is marked on 25 March 2017. The treaty was signed on 25 March 1957 at Campidoglio Palace in Rome by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany to form the European Economic Community (ECC). It continues to be one of the most important ones in the history of the European Union (EU).

The Irish border and EU citizens’ family reunification rights issues call into question the transition deal


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The European Commission published on Thursday an updated Brexit treaty draft. The new draft leaves little room for optimism, even on the transition deal that has become an operating assumption in the UK.

The draft envisages Brexit to take place on March 29, 2019, followed by a two-year transition period, ending in December 2020.

The final text will have to be negotiated with London but a number of unresolved issues call into question the transition deal.

Amendments to the text published in February aim to provide greater legal clarity, but substantial political challenges remain contentious, including the border in Northern Ireland.

Another contentious issue is the status of EU citizens immigrating to the UK after March 2019, when the UK leaves the EU but enters a transition period that is meant to resemble the status quo. The UK is willing to grant freedom of movement but not family reunifications rights.

Finally,  it is unclear what will happen if the UK and the EU do not reach a final Free Trade Agreement within the two-year period, as it is likely.

The next negotiating milestone is March 23, at a European Council.

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