March 15, 2018 / 2:40 PM / 2 years ago

EU publishes draft text of Brexit treaty, some key issues unresolved

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission published on Thursday an updated draft text of the treaty that will regulate Britain’s exit from the European Union on March 29th, 2019, but some of the key sticking points remain unresolved.

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

The text, which includes both the terms of the divorce as well as of the two-year transition period that is to follow, has now been sent to London for further negotiations.

An EU official said the updated text contained legal clarifications, but no major or meaningful changes compared to the text published at the end of February.

(Full text: here)

European Union leaders will discuss progress in negotiations on the withdrawal treaty with Britain at a summit on March 23 and are to approve guidelines for the Commission on negotiations about a future relationship, after the transition period ends.

One of the key unresolved issues in the draft treaty is how to avoid establishing a physical border between the Republic of Ireland and the British region of Northern Ireland after Brexit.

Another is the issue of the rights of citizens arriving in Britain after March 29th, 2019 but before the end of the transition period which is set at Dec 31st, 2020.

The EU wants all such arrivals and their families to get the same rights as those who were in Britain before Brexit. London is willing to grant such rights to EU citizens, but not their families.

The final sticking point is the end-date for the transition period itself. The EU insists it needs a concrete date and that the end of 2020 is in line with Britain’s own wish to have a transition of “around two years”.

But talks on a future trade agreement that would regulate business between Britain and the EU after the transition is over could take much longer than two years and London would like the treaty to make provisions for that.

Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Jon Boyle

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