UK Brexit secretary David Davis and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier pictured at a press conference in Brussels on 19 March 2018
Photo: European Commission/screengrab
Britain and the EU reached a major milestone in Brexit negotiations, agreeing terms for a 21-month transition after Brexit.
The conditional agreement will no doubt be reassuring for businesses, offering breathing space in the face of uncertainty.
“We now have certainty about the terms that will apply immediately after our withdrawal,” UK Brexit secretary David Davis said at a press conference in Brussels on Monday, adding: “Meaning they can continue to operate and invest with confidence as the design of our future partnership with the EU becomes clear.”
In a symbolic bid to highlight the progress made, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier showed the tri-coloured report, in which the colours green, yellow and white were used to indicate different stages of discussions. Much of the 130-page report was highlighted green, indicating the text was agreed at negotiators’ level and would only be subject to technical legal revisions.
New residency status
Barnier said that the key priorities were in the rights of citizens and financial regulations. On the European citizens affected and worried about Brexit, Barnier said: “Citizens will have the possibility to obtain a new residency status from the start of the transition. It allows citizens who wish to to have immediate legal certainty to remain after the transition period.”
On the transition period, Barnier said that the UK would not participate in any decision-making processes during this time. He said the transition will be “very useful for administration for British companies to prepare for the future, for example during the agreements with third countries,” adding: “Finally, this transition time will be a time for us to finalise our future relations. It will be intense and demanding on our future partnership.”
With regard to the draft protocol on the Ireland/Northern Ireland border, the negotiators agreed on a legally operative version of the backstop solution, to avoid a hard border, until another solution is found. Barnier said they had agreed to some elements of the protocol related to the common travel area and north-south cooperation.
If both speakers pointed out that an milestone had been reached, there is still some way to go as the transition is dependent on a final agreement on the complete withdrawal agreement. “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” said Barnier, explaining that it was a sound basis for withdrawal.