Britain, EU reach deal on post-Brexit transition period

The European Union and British negotiators have agreed on the most conditions of the United Kingdom's divorce from the bloc, thus nearly finalizing terms of the 21-month transition following the actual Brexit.

In a sign of how negotiating future trade ties with what is still one of the bloc's three biggest economies will test the unity of the 27, member states are already pushing their own interests on some issues.

But major questions are still up in the air after months of negotiations, most prominently how to handle the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K. The draft agreement is set to be considered by European Union leaders later this week.

But the 14 MPs, including leading backbench Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, said the proposal for Britain effectively to remain in the EU's Common Fisheries Policy for nearly two years after Brexit day in March 2019, with no say over the allocation of quotas, would not command the support of the Commons.

Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive of the British Ports Association, said: "A potential Brexit free trade deal will be welcomed by many in the sector but this is unlikely to cover border processes".

This presents a multitude of problems for the government because you will get those from one side rightly complaining that there is no protection should there be no trade deals in place by the time Britain officially leaves.

The objective of the transition period is twofold: to give businesses and citizens time to adjust to life after Brexit, and to give Britain and the European Union more time to agree on a trade deal. The two halves of Ireland have enjoyed an open border, as decided by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the basis of not only the border but also the peaceful truce between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

"We hope this will result in an accord that avoids the introduction of tariffs and minimises regulatory issues around trade in grain, flour and bakery products, as both sides say they want".

Monday's document clearly states the European Court of Justice will have "jurisdiction" over matters relating to EU law and EU citizens during the transition - once regarded as a "red line" by many Brexit-supporting MPs.

"It is in both the United Kingdom and EU's interest to get that deal.

That buys valuable time to implement the Green Card for Europe proposal we have been advocating but it does nothing to alleviate uncertainty about what will happen when the transition period comes to an end".

"No sooner do we regain sovereignty over our waters and our waters in it, and then we hand it straight back seconds later for this interim period, up to the end of 2020".

The UK insists that although it has accepted that a back stop will be included in the final withdrawal agreement, it has not accepted the current wording proposed by the EU.

Firstly Monday saw an agreement on a transition period.

  • Leroy Wright