EU leaders endorse Brexit deal

EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

British Prime Minister Theresa May (rear, C-R) and European Union Council President Donald Tusk (rear, C-L) during the European council in Brussels, Belgium, 25 November 2018.

EU leaders endorse Brexit deal


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After nearly two years of fraught negotiations, the 27 leaders of the EU endorsed two plans known as the Withdrawal Agreement and the Joint Political Declaration which will act as the official framework for the United Kingdom to finalise its divorce from the EU in March 2019.

“The European Council invites the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council to take the necessary steps to ensure that the agreement can enter into force on March 30, 2019, so as to provide for an orderly withdrawal,” the EU heads said in an official statement.
The agreement commits the United Kingdom to follow through on its financial obligations to the EU, which is estimated to be around €45 billion. It also gives both London and Brussels more time to settle the contentious issue of finding a way to agree on a mutually acceptable trade deal while the UK remains within the EU single market until December 2020.
Brussels has stated that the foundation of the future relationship between the two, once Brexit becomes a reality,  is to forge as s close of a political partnership with the UK so long as it adheres to the core tenants of the two agreements.
 “The EU and UK will remain allies, partners, and friends after Brexit,” said Europe’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, adding, “Now it is time for everybody to take their responsibility,” before the deal is finalised.
Critics of the agreement say the UK will effectively be left in limbo as the problem over the final status of the Irish border has been tabled for an indefinite amount of time.
Deep concerns remain about what happens with the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland as the worry is that after the two-year transition period that Northern Ireland, which is a part of the UK with England, Scotland, and Wales, could be forced to choose between setting up customs checkpoints and passport controls with EU member Ireland, a process known as a “hard border”, or implement a system that would leave the border open but would require an enhanced form or passport control to cross from Northern Ireland to the rest of the United Kingdom.
Worries still remain that the Northern Ireland question could trigger a restart of the sectarian violence that had plagued the region from the late 1960s until the 1998 Good Friday Agreement brought to an end a conflict that had killed and wounded thousands.
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