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Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, as agreed at negotiators’ level on 14 November 2018

Transition

  • The transition period (which the UK government calls “implementation period”) begins on 29 March 2019 and lasts until 31 December 2020.
  • The UK will need to abide by all EU rules, but will lose membership of its institutions.
  • The draft withdrawal agreement says the transition can be extended, but only for a period of one or two years (in other words up to the end of 2022 at most).
  • Both the UK and EU must agree to any extension and the decision must be taken before 1 July 2020.

Money

  • The draft agreement sets out the calculations for the financial settlement (or “divorce bill”) that the UK will need to pay to the EU to settle all of its obligations.
  • While no figure appears in the document, it is expected to be at least £39bn and it will be paid over a number of years.
  • Part of that money will be the financial contribution that the UK has to make during the transition period. This year the UK’s contribution to the EU budget is forecast to be a net £10.8bn.
  • If the transition is extended, there will have to be additional UK payments to the EU budget, which will be agreed separately.

Citizens’ rights

  • This is broadly unchanged from the initial draft of the withdrawal agreement which came out in March.
  • UK citizens in the EU, and EU citizens in the UK, will retain their residency and social security rights after Brexit.
  • Citizens who take up residency in another EU country during the transition period (including the UK of course) will be allowed to stay in that country after the transition.
  • Anyone that stays in the same EU country for five years will be allowed to apply for permanent residence.

Northern Ireland/the backstop

  • If no long-term trade deal has been agreed by the end of 2020 that avoids a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and if there is no extension to the transition period, then a backstop consisting of “a single customs territory between the (European) Union and the United Kingdom” will be triggered.
  • Northern Ireland will be in a deeper customs relationship with the EU than the rest of the UK; it will also be more closely aligned with the rules and regulations of the EU single market.
  • As long as the backstop is in operation, the UK will be subject to “level playing field conditions”, to ensure it cannot gain a competitive advantage while remaining in the same customs territory.
  • The UK cannot leave the backstop independently, it needs to be decided together with the EU.

Fishing

  • The agreement says that a separate agreement will need to be reached on access to EU fishing in UK waters.
  • The document says: “The Union and the United Kingdom shall use their best endeavours to conclude and ratify ‘an agreement’ on access to waters and fishing opportunities.”

Laws and disputes

  • The UK will remain under European Court of Justice (ECJ) jurisdiction during the transition.
  • A joint UK-EU committee will be set up to try to resolve any disputes on the interpretation of the withdrawal agreement.
  • If the backstop is triggered and the UK forms a single customs territory with the EU, the ECJ will not be able to resolve disputes between the UK and EU directly.
  • Instead, the whole dispute resolution procedure will be backed up by an arbitration panel. However, if any dispute rests on the interpretation of EU law, the arbitration panel refers the case to the ECJ for a binding decision.

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