Summary of Key Points from Draft Withdrawal Agreement between the EU & the UK

After March 29 next year, the Brexit withdrawal treaty will be Britain’s only legal agreement with the EU, a union with which it has shared sovereignty since 1973. Running to more than 500 pages, the provisional text agreed by London and Brussels unwinds 45 years of deep integration, protecting certain rights, defining outstanding obligations and establishing a transition period in which both sides can adjust.

To come into force, the Brexit deal requires approval by, in sequence, the UK cabinet, an EU summit, the House of Commons and the European Parliament. Commitments made in the document run to 2030 and beyond. The agreement will not only determine the nature of Britain’s exit from the EU, but also influence the country’s future relationship with the union.

Summary of Key Points from Draft Withdrawal Agreement

Financial Settlement

  • Britain will honour all its financial commitments to Brussels so that no EU country pays a euro more to the common budget as a result of Brexit.
  • Using conservative assumptions, the UK Treasury expects a net British outlay of €40bn to €45bn. The National Audit Office identified public payments that could reach €60bn, along with an additional €14bn of contingent liabilities such as outstanding loans.
  • The UK will pay into EU budgets for 2019 and 2020 as if it were still in the bloc. It will subsequently “contribute its share of the financing” for any outstanding EU liabilities as they fall due.
  • While most of the contributions will be made by 2025, some payments could continue until 2064, notably towards the pensions of EU officials.

Citizen Rights

  • The exit agreement maintains the existing EU residence and social security rights of more than 3m EU citizens in the UK, and about 1m UK nationals living on the continent.
  • The settlement allows an EU national to claim permanent residence in the UK, retain most family reunion rights enjoyed today and, if eligible, to claim UK benefits even if they or their children move overseas. Some EU family rights in Britain, however, are restricted to match those of UK citizens who want to marry foreign nationals.
  • Britain forced the EU to drop its demand that the exit deal fall under the direct jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Britain will, however, indefinitely pay “due regard” to relevant European court rulings on citizens’ rights enshrined in the treaty. UK cases can be referred to the Luxembourg-based ECJ for eight years after the end of the UK’s transition.

Transition

  • The treaty provides for a transition period for the UK until the end of 2020, which can be extended for an unspecified one-off period, set by mutual agreement.
  • During this period Britain would leave the political institutions of the EU, losing its say over rules and decisions. But it would continue to apply EU law in full.
  • This establishes a “standstill” for the UK while negotiations on a future UK-EU trade agreement begin, because little will change for businesses or citizens, including EU free movement rules.
  • Should the EU and UK extend the transition beyond December 2020, Britain would need to negotiate additional payments to the EU budget. While the precise figure is hard to predict, EU officials expect a net contribution of €10bn to €15bn a year.

Northern Ireland

  • A protocol in the treaty makes unique arrangements for Northern Ireland, with the aim of upholding the peace process and avoiding a hard border dividing the island of Ireland.
  • This includes protections of the rights of individuals, security co-operation and the continuation of the common travel area between Ireland and the UK, which predates Britain’s EU membership and guarantees free movement between the two countries.
  • Most significantly the protocol lays out “backstop” arrangements for the Irish border that ensure the free circulation of goods across the island of Ireland. These would remain in place unless and until a separate EU-UK agreement replaces them.
  • The provisions bind Northern Ireland to the EU’s customs code and single market rules, with checks on some trade with the UK mainland both at ports and in the marketplace. The UK also makes unilateral promises to minimise divergence with Northern Ireland by adhering to EU single market rules for goods, so keeping open the flow of trade to the British mainland.

UK-EU Customs Union

  • The backstop plan for Northern Ireland is underpinned by a UK-EU customs union. This avoids the need for customs checks across the Irish Sea, one of Prime Minister Theresa May’s most important red lines.
  • While Northern Ireland applies the full “union customs code”, which sets the border for the free movement of goods within the EU, the UK would apply a more basic customs union model. This avoids the needs for tariffs, quotas and rules of origin in UK-EU trade.
  • To ensure a “level playing field” for business, the UK commits to follow EU competition rules and promises to keep some existing laws on labour, environment and taxation. Trade in fish is excluded from the customs union until a future UK-EU agreement is reached on reciprocal access to waters.
  • A joint committee would decide if and when a future agreement on the border will allow the backstop to be terminated or amended. A mechanism is included to ensure both sides negotiate in good faith.

Governance

  • The arrangements for overseeing the withdrawal treaty are among the most sophisticated ever negotiated in any international agreement.
  • The model builds on the arrangements in the EU’s association agreement with Ukraine, mixing dispute resolution mechanisms with provisions that ensure the ECJ Justice has the final say on the bloc’s laws.
  • This ensures that neither the EU nor the UK is bound by the other jurisdiction’s courts when it comes to interpreting the agreement. Independent arbitration is provided for to resolve relevant disputes about the treaty. However, any matters of EU law must be referred to the ECJ, ensuring that the tribunal’s interpretation prevails on the union’s rules.


Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce
Room 5, Victoria House,
5 East Blackhall Street,
Greenock
PA15 1HD
01475 806824
07534 196253
seo@inverclydechamber.co.uk


Copyright © 2018 Something Completely Different
Privacy Policy