WHAT IS THE WITHDRAWAL AGREEMENT?
The European Union and the United Kingdom reached a withdrawal agreement, which outlined the conditions of the UK’s exit from the EU. It went into effect on February 1st, 2020.
The agreement contains two primary texts, according to Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union:
- The Withdrawal Agreement itself, including a Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland
- A Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
WHAT DOES THE TREATY COVER?
The comprehensive treaty addresses various areas of mutual importance for both parties:
- Common provisions: standard clauses for the adequate understanding and operation of the treaty.
- Citizens’ rights: protects the life choices of over 3 million EU nationals who live in the UK and over 1 million UK nationals that reside in EU countries. It safeguards their right to stay and continue to contribute to their communities.
- Separation issues: ensure that there is an orderly withdrawal of the UK from other arrangements with the EU. For example, protecting intellectual property rights including geographical indications.
- A transition period: during this period the EU will continue to treat the UK as if it were still a Member State, excluding the UK’s participation in the EU institutions and governance structures.
- Financial settlement: the EU and UK must honour all financial obligations agreed upon while the United Kingdom was still a member of the European Union.
- Ireland: a solution to the border on the island of Ireland, which should protect the economy and the Good Friday Agreement fully.
- Cyprus: a protocol will be set ton the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus, designed to protect all citizens who work in the base areas.
- Gibraltar: a protocol will be established to facilitate the cooperation between Spain and the United Kingdom and the protection of citizens’ rights.
Both the EU and the UK should carry out the Withdrawal Agreement’s implementation. During the transition phase, the UK and the EU will negotiate a future relationship deal.
POST-BREXIT STATUS OF EU AND UK TALKS
Negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union have proven difficult to date. A settlement must be reached by October (2020). Both parties will have to make concessions.
There are numerous distinctions between the EU and the United Kingdom. Priorities do not appear to be matched at the moment. The UK is battling for sovereignty, while the EU is trying to keep its single market intact.
So yet, it appears that little progress has been accomplished. On July 23rd, 2020, a senior UK official was quoted as saying, “I can quite see how we could make a breakthrough relatively quickly if they (the EU) adjust their position.”
However, the EU’s top negotiator, Michel Barnier, stated that “the UK renders a trade agreement – at this moment – improbable by its continuing reluctance to commit to conditions of open and fair competition and to a balanced accord on fisheries.”
Barnier stressed that the EU’s position is intended to safeguard the region’s long-term interests.
While the UK had hoped to make headway in recent months, the EU has been preoccupied with dealing with the epidemic. The EU leaders met for a record five-day meeting to agree on a post-coronavirus recovery plan.
Germany, which now holds the rotating EU Presidency, has stated that trade discussions with the UK will take place in September and October.
Downing Street believes a trade agreement may still be struck in September.
The issues dividing them include competition regulations, fishing rights, and how a settlement would be implemented.
It was reported on August 19th, 2020, that the UK has ruled out extending the December deadline to negotiate a deal.
The EU and UK had negotiations in Brussels from August 17th to August 21st. This is the sixth round of talks between the two sides.
While the EU wants an agreement, it will not compromise at any cost. France is anxious that Barnier may be tempted to give too much away, while Germany’s Angela Merkel has stated that any agreement will jeopardise or harm the EU’s single market.