(status of) Withdrawal Agreement & Political Declaration (EU-UK FTA)

UPDATE : these documents failed this evening (12th March 2019) at the second time of asking for ratification by the UK Parliament.

The EU has now published (in the Official Journal) both the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration – here.

Accompanying this is an EU Council Decision – here.

A couple of points to make :

(1) ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement (the “deal”) is required by both the UK and the EU Parliaments,

(2) the Political Declaration is a non-binding legal statement of intent, that may form the basis for the EU-UK FTA,

(3) the Withdrawal Agreement (if ratified) provides for a transition period during which — notwithstanding all consequences of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the Union as regards the United Kingdom’s participation in the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union — Union law, including international agreements, will be applicable to and in the United Kingdom.

The Commission, on behalf of the Union and of Euratom, would therefore notify the other parties to these agreements that the United Kingdom is to be treated as a Member State for the purposes of those agreements during the transition period.

14 Nov 2018 Withdrawal Agreement (EU-UK Brexit)

I posted yesterday (Brexit Status) that Withdrawal Agreement text had been agreed between EU and UK negotiators. This text was agreed last night at a meeting of the UK Cabinet, and then published – here. Alongside the 14 Nov 2018 Withdrawal Agreement text, a starter for the Outline Political Declaration on the Future Relationship was also published, and a Joint Statement (in that link).

Alongside this, DExEU also published and Explainer and Explanatory Notes – here.

The EU also published a Fact Sheet on the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) text – here, and a Fact Sheet on the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland (one of the 3 Protocols to the WA) – here.

The 14 Nov 2018 Withdrawal Agreement has 185 Articles, 3 Protocols, and a series of Annexes.

The objective of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) is to put in place an orderly exit of the UK from the EU on 12 midnight CET (11pm GMT) 29 March 2019 – dealing with matters such as citizen rights, money, and a series of separation technicalities. The WA (if ratified as a Treaty) also puts in place a Transition Period (in the UK, this is termed an Implementation Phase) lasting until 31 December 2020, during which EU Law will continue to apply and trade will be unchanged.

Note :

(1) the WA text must pass through a series of gates before ratification as a Treaty. When a Treaty, it will be given effect by the EU (Withdrawal and Implementation) Bill in the UK, which itself must be created and enacted. And this new Bill will necessarily amend and rewrite parts of the already enacted EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018. It is hoped, but by no means certain, these gates can be crossed by the exit date of 29 March 2019.

(2) during the transition to 31 Dec 2020, EU Law would continue to apply to and within the UK and override domestic law. But, as the UK will be a third country, this means it will have only minimal influence on the creation and enactment of EU law in that phase.

(3) a single extension for an (at present unspecified) length of time is permitted to the Transition Phase, this extension to be agreed by 1 July 2020. A firm end date will need to be negotiated by the European Council on 25th Nov (if it takes place).

(4) a specific Protocol for handling the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is the first of 3 Protocols in the 14 Nov 2018 WA text. This Protocol includes a detailed “backstop” to be used if the Future Relationship is not in place by the end of the transition period.

(5) the UK is a Third Country on exit on 29 March 2019, the transition period gives a further short period for transition to this Third Country status (relationship with the EU).

(6) the objective is to transition from the current EU member state status direct to the Future Relationship (Trade Agreement) status, via the Transition Period (which could be extended).

Further work is ongoing, and the WA text must pass a series of gates.

It is essential that Brexit Preparedness planning continues, and that the current Brexit Preparedness and Brexit Contingency EU and the UK Notices are read and understood. I have posted these. Please keep following this Blog for updates.