EU and UK reach Brexit transition deal

Both EU negotiator Michel Barnier and UK Brexit minister David Davis hailed the new draft withdrawal agreement and transition deal as a ‘decisive’ step forward.

British Brexit minister David Davis (left) and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier (right) in Brussels on Monday
British Brexit minister David Davis (left) and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier (right) in Brussels on Monday

The UK and European Union have reached a political deal on the terms of a Brexit transition period, in what has been described as a decisive step forward. 

The draft withdrawal agreement is expected to ease business’ fears of an abrupt exit for the UK.

The deal was announced by EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier during a joint press conference with UK Brexit minister David Davis in Brussels. 

The agreement must now be agreed upon by the EU’s 27 member states at the European Council summit later this week.

Once signed, the agreement will see the transition last 21 motnhs, ending in December 2020.

As part of the agreement, the UK has agreed to grant EU citizens arriving in the country during the transition period, the same rights as those in the country before Brexit.

On the other hand, the EU has committed itself to consulting with the UK on fishing allocations for 2020, with the share of the UK’s catch likely remaining unchanged.

While considerable progress had been made, both negotiators said differences remained over the UK-Ireland border.

The UK has agreed that the EU’s “backstop” option Northern Ireland to remain in the EU’s customs territory should remain in the draft legal withdrawal text, despite UK Prime Minister Theresa May rejecting it.

This would be pending the UK coming up with an alternative solution.

Barnier said that once the deal was given the green light by the European Council negotiations between the two sides could quickly commence, adding that formal trade negotiations with the UK could only start once it was a third country.

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