Draft withdrawal agreement
On 14th of November 2018 the draft Withdrawal Agreement was finally agreed between EU and UK negotiators and published.
EU citizens: The withdrawal agreement will cover all EU citizens and their family members legally residing in the UK; their rights (to continue to live, work, and study in the UK) will be protected by the EU law throughout their lifetime. EU citizens arriving in the UK during the transition period will enjoy the same rights and guarantees as those who arrive before Brexit. EU citizens will be able to rely on the direct application of the Withdrawal agreement in the UK courts. UK courts will be able to ask for preliminary rulings from the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) on the interpretation of the citizens' part of the Withdrawal Agreement for a period of eight years following the end of the transition period.
A financial settlement: The UK will honor its financial commitments under the current EU Multiannual Financial Framework by December 31 of 2020, i.e. till the end of the transitional period. If the transition period will be extended, the decision on the additional UK’s financial contribution to the EU budget will have to be taken by the Joint Committee. If there is any controversy, there will be no decision on the extension of the transitional period.
Transition period is limited in time: It will last from 29 March 2019 to 31 December 2020. During the transition period, the UK will lose the right to take part in the EU's decision-making process, but will be able to benefit from the single market, customs union, and other advantages. The UK would also have to comply with all EU rules as if it remained an EU member state. The Withdrawal Agreement includes a possibility for a one-time extension of the transitional period for one or two years (i.e. until December 31 2021 or 2022).
Dispute settlement mechanisms: In the event of a dispute on the interpretation of the Withdrawal Agreement, an initial political consultation would take place in a Joint Committee. If no solution is found, either party can refer the dispute to arbitration panel. In those cases where the dispute involves a question of EU law, the arbitration panel has an obligation to refer the question to the CJEU. The decision of the arbitration panel will be binding. In case of noncompliance, the possibility to suspend proportionately the application of the Withdrawal Agreement itself or parts of other agreements between the EU and the UK is forseen.
CJEU jurisdiction: The UK will have to apply the current EU acquis until the end of the transition period; after that the courts of UK shall have due regard of the decisions of the ECJ. This model is valid in the EEA countries.
Administrative procedures: for a period of four years after the end of the transition period, the European Commission shall be competent to initiate new administrative procedures against the UK based on the facts, which occurred before the end of transition period.
Geographic indications: The EU and the UK have agreed that the stock of existing EU-approved geographical indications (GIs) will be legally protected by the Withdrawal Agreement unless and until a new agreement applying to the stock of geographical indications is concluded in the context of the future relationship.
Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland: The Protocol includes all the provisions on how the so-called “backstop” solution for avoiding a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland would work. If an agreement on the future EU-UK relationship is not applicable by 31 December 2020, the EU and the UK have agreed that a backstop solution will apply until such a time as a subsequent agreement is in place. In the scenario where the "backstop solution" would apply, this would mean the following in practice:
- There will be a single EU-UK customs territory. This will avoid the need for tariffs, quotas or checks on rules of origin between the EU and the UK.
- The EU and the UK have agreed on a set of measures to ensure that there is a level playing field between the EU and the UK.
- The Union's Customs Code (UCC), which sets out, inter alia, the provisions for releasing products into free circulation within the EU, will continue to apply to Northern Ireland. This will ensure that Northern Irish businesses will not face restrictions when placing products on the EU's Single Market.
- The UK in respect of Northern Ireland will remain aligned to a limited set of rules that are related to the EU's Single Market and indispensable for avoiding a hard border: legislation on goods, sanitary rules for veterinary controls (“SPS rules”), rules on agricultural production/marketing, VAT and excise in respect of goods, and state aid rules.