15 Nov 2018

Brexit deal result of intense negotiations - EU

12:32 pm on 15 November 2018

The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier says a draft withdrawal proposal for Britain has resulted from 17 months of intense negotiations.

EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier addresses the press at the European Commission.

European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. Photo: AFP or licensors

The British government has agreed to the draft agreement setting out the process for the country to withdraw from the European Union.

Michel Barnier said there were five particular areas covered by the almost 600-page document, including citizen rights.

He says the withdrawal document ensures that life will continue as usual for European citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in Europe before the end of the transition period.

"They will be able to continue to live in their country of residence, to study there, to work there, to receive benefits there or to be joined by their families there throughout their lifetime."

Michel Barnier says financial commitments entered into between the EU and the UK will also be met.

He says it is important that the agreement is well-implemeted, and that will reflect on the credibility of the agreement itself.

"Like any international agreement, the draft creates a framework for a first stage of political resolution for dispute ... if there is persistent disagreement the resolution of those will be [carried out] by an arbitration panel.

"Where it concerns interpretation of EU law, the Court of Justice of the European Union will continue to play its role."

Mr Barnier announced a staggered timeframe for the UK's withdrawal from Brexit.

"The United King will leave as it wished ... all the institutions on 29 March 2019.

"But for a period of 21 months from 30 March 2019 to 31 December 2020 we have agreed to preserve the current situation with respect to the internal market, the customs union and European policies and all the rights and obligations going along with that.

"This will enable the citizens, but also administrations and of course business, particularly small and medium-sized undertakings, to prepare and adapt."

Transitional arrangements

Michel Barnier says there is also an option of extending the transition arrangements for a limited period by joint agreement of the parties.

He said the agreement also included three protocols on the future of Gibraltar, Cyprus and the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

In the case of Gibraltar, the withdrawal proposal creates the basis for a ministry of cooperation on a series of subjects, including the rights of citizens, taxation, tobacco, the environment, fisheries and also police and customs cooperation.

The agreement relating to Cyprus would enable the continuation of existing agreements around British bases in that country and allow the 11,000 Cypriot citizens with British sovereignty to continue as they do now.

Mr Barnier said a solution had also been found to avoid a "hard" border on the island of Ireland between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

"First, we will use our best endeavours to solve the issue for the long-term through a future agreement.

"If we're not ready by July 2020 we could generally consider extending the transition to provide for more time.

"If at the end of the transition. extended or not. we are still not there with a future agreement, the backstop solution we agreed today would kick in."

Mr Barnier said that would involve creation of a single EU/UK customs territory.

He said Northern Ireland would therefore remain in the same customs territory as the UK.

In addition Northern Ireland would remain aligned to the rules of the single market, which were essential for avoiding a border.


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