BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union on Monday agreed to give Britain a status-quo transition after Brexit until the end of 2020, though the deal - important to Prime Minister Theresa May and the business - came at the expense of another fudge over the Irish border.
The sides have only agreed that an emergency backstop mechanism to avoid a border between the Republic of Ireland and Britain’s province of Northern Ireland would have to be part of London’s exit deal, but failed to nail down the wording.
May has said “no British prime minister” would agree to the backstop proposed by the EU, under which the bloc would go on treating Northern Ireland as part of its own customs union, which would weaken its links to the rest of the United Kingdom.
The sides will tackle the conundrum again in a series of meetings in six meetings planned until mid-April.
The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm that is negotiating Brexit with London on behalf of the other 27 EU states, published a full text of the latest draft withdrawal agreement, and it can be found here:
Here are some of the EU and British concessions that helped seal the provisional deal that will be endorsed by the other 27 EU leaders at their summit in Brussels on Friday.
EU CONCESSIONS -
* The latest update includes a direct reference that Britain can “negotiate, sign and ratify international agreements” on its own during the transition period.
It still cannot, however, become bound by any such new trade deals before the transition period runs out, or it is specifically given permission by the EU 27.
* A clause is gone that, in previous drafts, would limit the right of Britons living in mainland Europe to permanently establish themselves in any of the 27 states remaining in the bloc after Brexit, confining them to their country of residence.
* For the roll-over beyond Brexit of international agreements that London entered as part of the EU, the bloc would tell the third countries to continue treating Britain as if it were still an EU member during the transition period.
It would still be up to these third countries and organisations, however, to decide if they would do that, or not.
BRITISH CONCESSIONS -
* Britain agreed to extend the same rights citizens of the other 27 EU states have on arriving to its soil now until the end of the transition period, not only until the Brexit date in March, 2020.
Those arriving during the transition period, however, would have to register with the British Home Office after three months in Britain.
“The UK’s attempt to discriminate against EU citizens in the transition has been defeated,” said the European Parliament’s Brexit pointman, Guy Verhofstadt.
* The post-Brexit transition period will finish at the end of 2020, while London had toyed with a longer, or potentially an open-ended period.
* The Irish backstop, while crucial for securing the transition deal, may cost London dearly if no other solutions are found.
The bloc says May has already agreed to it in principle last December, despite expressing outrage more recently as the bloc translated the earlier deal into “operational detail” that added up to having Northern Ireland de facto stay in the bloc’s customs union.
Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Angus MacSwan