EC publishes draft Withdrawal Agreement for Brexit
The European Commission has today published the draft Withdrawal Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom. The draft Agreement consists of six parts, including introductory provisions, citizens' rights, other separation issues such as goods placed on the market before the withdrawal date, the financial settlement, transitional arrangements, and institutional provisions. It also includes a protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. The European Council (Article 50, i.e. without the UK) is expected to adopt additional guidelines in March 2018, in particular as regards the framework for the future relationship, and has called on the UK to provide further clarity on its position on the framework for the future relationship.
The draft Withdrawal Agreement is a translation into legal terms of the Joint Report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government (published on 8 Dec. 2017) on the progress achieved during the first phase of Brexit negotiations. The draft Withdrawal Agreement proposes text for those outstanding withdrawal issues which are mentioned, but not set out in detail, in the Joint Report. It also integrates the text on the transition period (which the EC , based on the supplementary negotiating directives adopted by the Council (Article 50) on 29 January 2018. Provisions on transitional arrangements will form part of the overall Withdrawal Agreement. This means that a transition period (which the EC currently envisages to end on 31 December 2020, coinciding with the end of the current Multiannual Financial Framework) will only be fully certain once the Withdrawal Agreement has been ratified by the EU and the UK.
The draft Withdrawal Agreement will now be sent to the Council (Article 50) and the European Parliament's Brexit Steering Group for discussion, before being transmitted to the United Kingdom for negotiation. A final overall version of the Withdrawal Agreement should be agreed by the EU and the UK by October 2018 (i.e. during the upcoming Austrian EU Council Presidency) to allow for the timely ratification by the European Parliament, the Council (Article 50) and the UK, according to its own constitutional requirements. The United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union on 30 March 2019.
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