Great Britain and the European Union (EU) have reached a tentative agreement on a two-year transition period intended to create an “orderly withdrawal” from the European economic bloc.
The UK has been a member of the EU and its predecessor, the European Economic Community (The Common Market), since 1973.
Addressing reporters in Brussels at the conclusion of negotiations, Brexit Secretary David Davis said:
“In December we reached an important milestone by achieving agreement on the first phase of negotiations. And today, we’ve taken another significant step by reaching agreement on the next phase which I am confident will be welcomed by the European Council when it meets later this week.”
“The deal we have struck today, on top of that agreed in December, should give us confidence that a good deal for the UK and the EU is closer than ever before.”
Under the terms of the conditional exit deal negotiated by Davis and EU chief negotiator Michael Bernier, the UK will be obligated to abide by existing EU conditions, but will forfeit its leverage over decision making in the Union.
In a compromise, the EU agreed to consult with the UK over matters effecting the Isles during the transition.
Similarly, the agreement states the transition period will begin on March 29 and end Dec. 31, 2020, EU citizens traveling to the UK will enjoy rights previously guaranteed and the UK will retain rights to existing EU trade agreements with member nations.
Of critical importance, the arrangement includes a proviso which will allow the UK to begin and conclude discussions over new trade agreements with EU members during the transitional phase of Brexit.
The deal concluded amid Northern Ireland’s place inside the body, with negotiators agreeing the British-ruled region will remain in the EU Customs Union if no better solution is found. EU officials demanded no “hard border” exist between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland in a final Brexit agreement.
The “hard border” agreement came over the intense objections of British Prime Minister Theresa May.
While businesses inside the bloc and in the UK appeared ready to embrace the transitional period, a legal filing in a Scotland court could impede the next in a series of steps required to achieve the UK’s full extraction from the economic alliance.
Seeking a ruling over whether Article 50, which triggers Brexit, could be halted by London without approval from the 27-member EU, pro-Remain Members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs) have filed suit asking Scotland’s highest court to refer the matter to to European Court of Justice.
Overturning an earlier ruling, three judges with the Supreme Courts of Scotland revived the case, saying it is a matter “of great importance.”
[The Parliament Magazine] [The Guardian] [The Telegraph] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via The Express]