The European Commission has announced in a press release that the first phase of Brexit negotiations has now made “sufficient progress”, and talks can now move onto trade and the transition deal. The President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said “I will always be sad about this development, but now we must start looking to the future, a future in which the UK will remain a close friend and ally.”
The final deal has been made following talks between UK Prime Minister Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster. Foster has commented that “substantial changes” made to the agreement about the Irish Border have now confirmed there will be “no red line down the Irish Sea”, and there will be no customs barrier between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
Theresa May commented that the talks have delivered “a hard-won agreement in all our interests”, She has also confirmed that the deal will guarantee the rights of EU citizens living and working in the UK are “enshrined in UK law and enforced by British courts”. The agreement includes a financial settlement which, according to May is “fair to the British taxpayer” and preserves the “constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom”.
The Commission’s report makes it almost certain that the leaders of the other 27 EU member states will approve the deal. This is a substantial step forward in the negotiations which will ease pressure on Theresa May who needs to finalise a deal by March 2019. The UK were facing the prospect of contingency plans having to be put in place if no progress was made by the end of this year.
According to Juncker “The joint report is not the withdrawal agreement. That agreement needs to be drafted by the negotiators on the basis we have agreed yesterday and today and then approved by the Council and ratified by the UK Parliament and European Parliament.” He said that he and Mrs May had discussed the need for a transition period, and creating “a joint vision of a deep and close partnership”.
He added that “It is crucial for us all that we continue working closely together on issues such as trade, research, security and others. We will take things one step at a time, starting with next week’s European Council, but today I am hopeful that we are all moving towards the second phase of these challenging negotiations and we can do this jointly on the basis of renewed trust, determination and with the perspective of a renewed friendship.”
Theresa May said: “I very much welcome the prospect of moving ahead to the next phase, to talk about trade and security and to discuss the positive and ambitious future relationship that is in all of our interests. The deal we’ve struck will guarantee the rights of more than three million EU citizens living in the UK and of a million UK citizens living in the EU. “
“EU citizens living in the UK will have their rights enshrined in UK law and enforced by British courts. They will be able to go on living their lives as before. After some tough conversations, we’ve now agreed a settlement that is fair to the British taxpayer. It means that in future we will be able to invest more in our priorities at home, such as housing, schools and the NHS.”
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