Britain voted to the leave the EU in the referendum on 23RD June 2016, this has left a bitter sweet experience for the region without any clear cut guidelines to show how this will be finalised. Officials on both sides have been at loggerheads regarding how best the divorce can be achieved until recently.
In the first phase of negotiations, British and EU officials are meeting each month for four days in Brussels, the home of the European Commission.
So far, there have been rounds of talks. The first one, in June, was largely a get-to-know you session in which both sides sized each other up, engaged in a few official pleasantries and discussed scheduling issues.
July’s session was much more serious and detailed, with full discussions taking place in four key areas: the rights of EU citizens in the UK and Britons on the continent, the future of the 300 mile land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, general separation issues, and the question of money and trade
After months of wrangling to little obvious effect, everything fell into place in the space of a few hours: here are the highlights of the agreement
- EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the rest of the EU have the right to stay. Rights of their children and those of partners in existing “durable relationships” are also guaranteed.
- UK courts will preside over enforcing rights over EU citizens in Britain but can refer unclear cases to the European court of justice for eight years after withdrawal.
- The agreement promises to ensure there will be no hard border and to uphold the Belfast agreement.
- It makes clear the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland, will be leaving the customs union.
- It leaves unclear how an open border will be achieved but says in the absence of a later agreement, the UK will ensure “full alignment” with the rules of the customs union and single market that uphold the Good Friday agreement.
- However, the concession secured by the DUP is that no new regulatory barriers will be allowed between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK without the permission of Stormont in the interest of upholding the Good Friday agreement.
- There is no figure on how much the UK is expected to pay but the document sets out how the bill will be calculated – expected to be about £50bn.
- The UK agrees to continue to pay into the EU budget as normal in 2019 and 2020.
- It also agrees to pay its liabilities such as pension contributions.
- The two sides agreed there would be need for cooperation on nuclear regulation and police and security issues.
- There was an agreement to ensure continued availability of products on the market before withdrawal and to minimise disruption for businesses and consumers.