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The Negotiation Process

  • Following the declaration at the December 2017 European Council meeting that sufficient progress had been achieved in relation to the key issues in Phase 1 of the Exit negotiations (citizens rights, the UK financial settlement and Ireland/Northern Ireland issues), negotiations have now moved on to Phase 2,
  • Phase 2 is comprised of three components:
    • The Withdrawal Agreement: Aimed at giving legal effect to the commitments entered into by the UK in Phase 1, including on Ireland/Northern Ireland and the avoidance of a hard border. The latest draft of the Withdrawal Agreement was discussed by the EU27 at the European Council meeting of 23 March, and follow-up discussions between the EU and the UK are ongoing with a view to completion by October 2018.
    • Transition Period: The draft Withdrawal Agreement also contains EU proposals on the  arrangements for a Transition Period, including that the full EU acquis will continue to apply to the UK until 31 December 2020; and
    • EU Guidelines on the Framework for Future Trading Relationship negotiations were also agreed at the European Council. It is hoped that these will also be agreed with the UK by October 2018, and will inform the approach to the future trade negotiations after March 2019.
  • While negotiators have reached agreement on certain elements of the draft Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, most notably those related to the Common Travel Area and North-South cooperation, they agree that the full set of issues related to avoiding a hard border need to be addressed further.  While no substantial progress was achieved at the European Council (28/29 June 2018), it was made clear that Ireland has the full backing of the EU and that Irish issues must be dealt with in the Withdrawal Agreement;  
  • The negotiations need to be intensified as EU-UK negotiators aim to conclude discussions on both the Withdrawal Agreement and the Framework for the Future Relationship discussions by October 2018 so that they can be referred to the European Parliament, Member States and the UK Parliament for ratification in time for Brexit to come into effect on 29 March 2019.