Brexit: What is Known about the Agreement between London and Brussels

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What is known about the Brexit agreement

The British government validated Wednesday night the agreement on the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union. Transition period, Northern Ireland, Brexit bill … Here are the main points of the text that leaked.

The agreement found on the UK exit has  585 pages, 185 articles  and goes into very practical details. However, the “technical document” that Theresa May and Michel Barnier, the chief negotiator of the European Union, have achieved is far from being the end point of Brexit . It is rather a roadmap whose outlines are now known.

March 29th … start of a transition period

On the 29th March 2019, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. A transition period will open, until December 2020 (renewable until December 2021) where almost nothing will change. But London and the Twenty-Seven will negotiate during this time the trade relationship “reduced to the essential” that will prevail after.

This will be, according to the technical document, more than just a commercial agreement. The EU has imposed measures to prevent the British from engaging in unfair competition: they will have to continue to respect EU product standards, competition rules, public business support, the social and the environment.

London could not, either, unilaterally leave the customs union: this decision could only come under the jurisdiction of a mixed body where Europeans and British would sit at parity. These provisions provoke the fury of the supporters of a hard Brexit, whose leitmotiv is to recover full sovereignty and freedom to negotiate freely. They prefer a “no deal” to this agreement.

Made-to-measure for Ireland

The negotiators have reserved a special fate for Northern Ireland , which will leave the European Union with the whole of the United Kingdom. The Europeans did not want a “physical” border to be restored , which would abolish the free movement of people and goods between the Republic of Ireland and Ulster. To avoid this, a special device, called backstop ( “safety net” ) was created: if the British reduced their involvement with the EU at the end of 2020, Northern Ireland will remain linked to Twenty -Sept by a much tighter agreement, close to the current regime.

This scheme enrages Northern Irish union leaders , whose support is needed for the minority government of Theresa May. They denounce a “dislocation” of the United Kingdom. This device would move the commercial frontier: no longer between the two Irish, but between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

This safety net also displeases Scotland. The head of government of the northern province has already said that this agreement was “disastrous” because it breaks the balance between British regions.


Michel Barnier, the European negotiator, recalled at a press conference on Wednesday that the British would have to pay. “We agreed that the commitments made at 28 will be honored at 28” , said Michel Barnier, “all financial commitments”.

The United Kingdom must pay everything it has already committed to as a Member State until December 2020, the end of the multiannual budgetary framework 2014-2020. “The Brexit bill”will be paid in euros, which is important given the difference in the exchange rate between the two currencies. The British government announced in December that the amount of the bill would be between 40 and 45 billion euros.

Michel Barnier said that  “we want together to reassure the project leaders, the regions, supported by the European budget, in the Union as in the United Kingdom. “

The rights of European expatriates

The 3.2 million Europeans who arrived on British soil before March 29 will have resident status. Expatriates can still appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) until 2027. Residence rights apply after five years of residence.

“European citizens established in the United Kingdom and the British established in a Member State of the Union before the end of the transitional period can continue to live their lives as before in their country of residence,” promised Michel Barnier.

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