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News EU’s Michel Barnier reveals draft Brexit treaty EU negotiator Michel Barnier has revealed the bloc’s first draft of the Brexit withdrawal treaty, emphasizing there were “no surprises. Barnier’s speech focused on border issues between the UK and Ireland. European Union Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the UK must speed up talks if it wants to withdraw from the EU by March of next year. He repeated that there were “no surprises” in the 120-page draft that contains 168 paragraphs.
The arrangements of the draft treaty are overseen by a joint EU-UK committee, but the European Court of Justice remains as the ultimate authority to resolve disputes. The draft treaty was based on interim agreements reached in December and on EU positions that Britain has yet to accept. Brexit negotiations: What are the key issues? Two phases EU leaders agreed to negotiating guidelines during a summit in April 2017 that divided the divorce talks into two phases.
Phase I, in which both sides aimed to settle the basic terms of Britain’s departure, started in July and ended with an agreement on “sufficient progress” in December. Officials are now holding Phase II negotiations on the post-Brexit relationship between Britain and the EU. The “Brexit Bill” London agreed to a formula for calculating what it owes in its “divorce bill” to the EU in early December after months of haggling by British officials. The current EU budget expires in 2022 and EU officials have said the divorce bill will cover financial obligations Britain had committed to before triggering article 50. Citizens’ rights Both sides agreed in early December that the 3 million EU citizens currently in Britain and the 1. 1 million British citizens in the EU keep their residency rights after Brexit.
British courts will have immediate jurisdiction over EU citizens living in Britain. But the EU’s highest court, the ECJ, can hear cases until 2027 if British judges refer unclear cases to them. The Irish border Britain and the EU also agreed in December that no border checks between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland would return post-Brexit. How feasible the commitment will be is unclear, as Britain’s commitment to leaving the EU Single Market and Customs Union makes it difficult to avoid customs checks at the Irish border. Transition period Theresa May envisages a two-year transition period after March 2019. Both sides still have to hash out the details of the transition period in Phase II, including the exact end-date, whether new EU laws passed during the period will apply to Britain, and whether Britain can negotiate its own free trade deals. British officials hope to agree on the terms of the transition by March 2018.
Trade May has repeatedly said Britain will leave the European Single Market and the EU Customs Union. Leaving both could disrupt British-EU trade, but allow Britain to negotiate its own free trade deals and restrict EU migration — key demands by pro-Brexit politicians. London has said it wants to negotiate a new EU-UK trade deal during Phase II to minimize trade disruption before March 2019. Immigration Britain has also vowed to restrict EU migration into Britain after Brexit. However, some British lawmakers are wary that a sharp drop in immigration could lead to shortfalls in key sectors, including health, social care and construction. The EU has warned that Single Market access is out of the question if London decides to restrict the ability of its citizens to live and work in Britain. Security Recent terror attacks across Europe including a string in Britain underline both sides’ support for continued security cooperation after March 2019.
But access to EU institutions such as Europol and programs such as the European Arrest Warrant require compliance with EU laws. Whether Britain will still be compliant after it leaves is unclear. In particular, a protocol on how to avoid a “hard border” between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland would effectively keep the northern neighbor within the EU structures and rules, such as the bloc’s single market and customs union. The draft states that the plan would only come into effect if no other solution to the border issue could be found.
In such a case, “a common regulatory area comprising the Union and the United Kingdom in respect of Northern Ireland” would be set up to ensure the free movement of goods. Ireland and the EU have called for any Brexit agreement to avoid a hard border — including customs checks — to protect the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement with Northern Ireland. Following a number of questions from reporters about the delicate political situation between the UK and Ireland, Barnier said he was “not trying to make any shockwaves” or provoke anyone. We’ve got 43 years of integration between the UK and EU to unravel here,” Barnier said. We have more than 700 international agreements which the UK will be leaving because they wanted that.
Following the presentation on Wednesday, Prime Minister Theresa May said an Irish border after Brexit would “undermine the constitutional integrity of the UK” and was unacceptable to Britain. Read more: Welfare state: Who’s bigger on benefits, Germany or the UK? May said the plan would “undermine the UK common market” by essentially putting a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. No UK prime minister could ever agree to it,” May said.
May said Britain would work with the EU on alternative proposals and remains “absolutely committed” to avoiding a hard border. The British prime minister is due to make a Brexit speech on Friday, where it is expected she will outline future relationship she wants with the European Union. Ireland welcomed the EU’s first draft of the Brexit agreement, but was prepared to discuss other options once Britain provided alternatives to how trade and travel can be kept smooth across the Northern Ireland border. The EU draft contains “the necessary legal provision to implement the backstop” that would avoid a hard border between the UK and the EU member state, the Irish government said. It’s not okay for people, whether pro-Brexit politicians in Britain or parties in Northern Ireland, to just say ‘no’ now. It’s incumbent on them, if they can’t accept the backstop, well then they must detail how Option A or B would work,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told Ireland’s Newstalk radio station.
He warned that a transition deal was by no means certain due to “substantial disagreements. Some progress has been made on the Irish border issue. New legislation will be introduced to repatriate EU laws on fishing and farming if required. But should Germany really be scared of a messy outcome? European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said security ties between the two will be upheld.