UK, EU agree 21-month-old deal on Brexit transition period

ANI | Updated: Mar 19, 2018 20:06 IST

Brussels [Belgium], Mar 19 (ANI): The United Kingdom (UK) on Monday struck a deal on terms of Brexit transition period after making a serious of concessions to the European Union (EU) and accepting a 'backstop' plan of keeping Northern Ireland under the EU law.

The transitional period is set to last from March 29, 2019, to December 31, 2020, according to the deal.

After intense rounds of talks, David Davis, the Brexit secretary, said, "The agreement on the terms of the 21-month period, ending on December 31, 2020, was a significant moment, which would give businesses and citizens the reassurance they needed."

According to the deal, the UK will continue to retain the benefits of the single market and customs union for two years, while it will lose its role in making any decision-making institutions, which Prime Minister Theresa May has vocally opposed.

"British citizens and European citizens of the 27-country bloc who arrive during the transition period will receive the same rights and guarantees as those who arrived before the day of Brexit," said the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.

He added that the UK had agreed that in relation to Northern Ireland the withdrawal agreement would retain a default solution to avoiding a hard border, under which Ireland would remain in regulatory alignment, The Guardian reported.

The EU and Ireland had insisted that the backstop option was simply the translation of an agreement struck in a joint report between the UK and the European Commission in December last year.

According to the December report, it suggested that "regulatory alignment would be necessary if either a future trade deal or a bespoke technological solution failed to offer the same advantage of avoiding a hard border."

"With the issue threatening to stall an agreement on the transition period, a deal, however, had been struck. We agree today that the backstop solution must form part of the legal text of the withdrawal agreement", Barniers said.

Davis added, "Make no mistake, both the UK and the EU are committed to the joint report in its entirety and in keeping with that commitment we agree on the need to include legal text detailing the backstop solution for the border of Northern Ireland and Ireland in the withdrawal agreement that is acceptable to both sides."

"But it remains our intention to achieve a partnership that is so close as to not require specific measures in relation to Northern Ireland and therefore we will be engaged in detail on all the scenarios set out in the joint report," he stated.

Despite accepting that a backstop on maintaining a regulatory alignment between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will be included in the final withdrawal agreement, the UK has insisted that it has not accepted the current wording proposed by the EU.

In a referendum on June 23 last year, 51.9 percent of the UK electorate (overall turnout was 72.2 percent) voted to leave the EU.

On March 29 last year, the British government invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union, beginning the process of UK's exit from the European bloc. (ANI)