The draft divorce agreement between Britain and the European Union has two parts: a legally binding withdrawal agreement, which runs more than 580 pages, and a looser political declaration on future relations.
Here are some key points.
Transition period: Britain will leave the EU on March 29 but remain inside the bloc’s single market and bound by its rules until the end of December 2020, while the two sides work out a new trade relationship. The transition period can be extended by joint agreement before July 1, 2020 if both parties decide more time is needed.
Irish border: The deal commits the two sides to a “backstop” solution to guarantee the border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.’s Northern Ireland remains free of customs posts or other obstacles. It keeps the U.K. in a customs arrangement with the EU, and will last until superseded by permanent new trade arrangements. Both sides say they hope to have a new deal in place by the end of 2020, so the backstop is never needed.
Divorce bill: Britain agrees to cover contributions to staff pensions and commitments to EU programs the U.K. made while a member for the funding period that runs to 2020. The bill has previously been estimated at about 39 billion pounds (US$50 billion).
Citizens’ rights: EU citizens living in Britain, and Britons elsewhere in the bloc, will continue to have the rights to live and work that they do now.
The seven-page political declaration says Britain and the EU will seek a “free trade area combining deep regulatory and customs cooperation,” and “ambitious, comprehensive and balanced” arrangements for the services sector.
Other ambitions include visa-free travel for short-term visits, smooth rail road, air and sea transport and “comprehensive, close, balanced and reciprocal law enforcement and judicial cooperation.”
Details will be worked out after the U.K. leaves the EU on March 29.
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