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    EU, UK reach agreement on transition period

    © European Commission
    © European Commission

    The European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) reached agreement on Monday on the terms of a transition period during which London will no longer participate in the EU decision-making process, the EU’s Chief negotiator on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, Michel Barnier, said on Monday. The joint legal text agreed upon by the negotiators “is a decisive step”, since “we were able to agree […] on a large part of what will be an international agreement on the ordered withdrawal of the United Kingdom” from the EU, Barnier said at a press conference also attended by UK Brexit Minister, David Davis.

    Complete agreement has been reached on citizens rights and on the economic settlement when UK leaves EU. Davis said that a good deal for both UK and EU is closer than ever and was optimistic about entering a free trade agreement with the EU.

    Barnier added that “a decisive step remains a step. We are not at the end of the road, and there is a lot of work still to be done on important subjects including Ireland and Northern Ireland. Nothing is agreed until all is agreed.”

    On the Irish issue both parties expressed their committment to upholding the Good Friday agreement and avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. If no solution is found, the withdrawal agreement will include legal text on a “backstop” solution for the border that is acceptable to both sides.

    As regards the status of Gibraltar after Brexit, both Barnier and Davis referred to bilateral talks between UK and Spain.

    During the transition period, which will be of limited duration, the UK will not take part in the EU decision-making process but will nevertheless retain the advantages and benefits of the common market, customs union and assistance programmes.

    The transition period will give time to businessess and citizens to prepare themselves for Brexit. During the transition the UK will also start trade negotiations with third countries to replace the hundreds of agreeements it now has as an EU member state.

    The screen behind Barnier and Davis showed journalists a colour-coded document representing the result of the negotiations. Sections underlined in green were those on which formal agreement had been reached. Yellow designated those aspects on which a political agreement had been reached but more clarity was required, while the parts underlined in white were still subject to negotiation.

    Barnier will present the result of the negotiations to the heads of state and government of the remaining 27 EU members at a European Summit scheduled for the end of the week.

    Jason Bennett
    The Brussels Times