The UK and the EU have released a draft agreement on the terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc and the outline of a political declaration on their future relationship.
– What is in the withdrawal agreement?
The 585-page text will provide the basis of a legally binding treaty. It covers the future rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals in the EU, the UK’s £39 billion “divorce” settlement, as well as protocols on Gibraltar and the UK sovereign base areas in Cyprus.
It also provides for a transition period after the UK leaves in March 2019 running to the end of 2020, with the option of a one-off extension if more time is needed to conclude an agreement on the future relationship.
Crucially it also covers the so-called “backstop” intended to ensure there is no return to the hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic if negotiations on the future relationship have still not been completed.
– How will the backstop work?
It will create a single EU-UK customs territory with the UK continuing to follow EU tariffs and customs rules, avoiding the need for checks between the EU and UK – including between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
In addition however, Northern Ireland will be required to remain aligned with some EU single market rules, including legislation on goods, agricultural production, veterinary controls and state aid rules.
– How long can the arrangement last?
2/2 Statement on behalf of #Brexit steering group: “We are committed to forensically monitoring implementation of the citizens’ rights parts of the agreement. The European Parliament will have the final say, along with the UK Parliament, on the deal” ↓↓↓https://t.co/HjIXVd5hl3
— European Parliament (@Europarl_EN) November 14, 2018
The draft agreement contains no end date – beyond making it clear that it should be before the end of the century. It does however state it should be a temporary arrangement and cannot be the basis of a future relationship.
– What happens if the UK wants to pull out?
The agreement allows the UK and the EU to end the arrangement by mutual agreement. In the event of a dispute, an arbitration panel – made up of two members each from the EU and UK and one independent – will rule on whether it is still necessary.
– What about the declaration on the future relationship?
At just eight pages it is a much slimmer document, which will be worked up into a more substantial declaration in time for a special Brexit summit of EU leaders expected at the end of the month. It will provide the basis for the next stage of the negotiations – the future security and economic partnerships, including a wide-ranging free trade agreement. It suggests a “sliding scale”, with the EU offering greater access the more of its rules and regulations the UK is prepared to take on.