Brexit negotiations


Article 50 of the European Union Treaty gives any country that wants to leave the Union the right to two years in which to negotiate the exit terms. Consequently, the UK initially had until March 29, 2019 to reach an exit deal with the EU, but this deadline was extended several times (see below).  

Since PM Theresa May triggered Article 50 in March 2017, there have been a number of negotiations and meetings organised between representatives of the EU and the UK, as well as between the Prime Minister and Parliament in Britain.

Theresa May's proposed deal

At first, the British government led by Theresa May published a white paper, the Chequers plan, in July 2018, outlining its view on Brexit and the future relationship the UK wants to have with the EU.

A final draft version of the agreement was reached in November 2018, a version that has the EU’s approval, but which still needs to be approved by the British Parliament.  However, the EU has refused to renegotiate the deal if the British Parliament rejects it.

The contents of May's deal

The proposed deal includes provisions on the transition period, the Irish border, the cost of leaving the EU and a number of other areas such as security, trade, food etc.  The deal also establishes that the UK will leave the EU in 2019, but that it will continue to stay in the Single Market and accept its rules until 2020. During this time, the two sides should draft a new trade agreement. The transition period could be prolonged for another two years.

The deal also states that the UK and the EU should keep the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland free of customs until the end of 2020. This means that the UK will still have a customs deal with the EU. By that time, the two sides should reach an agreement that continues this backstop solution. This means that goods will be checked, but there will be no physical border between the two countries.

The deal further states that the UK will continue to pay some money to the EU in the form of contributions to EU programs that the country has already signed for until 2020. These contributions are often called the “divorce bill”  by the media, and will amount to about 40 million euros that will be paid by the UK to the EU.

Another aspect included in the deal is related to citizens' rights and immigration. According to the negotiations, all EU citizens living in Britain as well as British people living in EU will still have the same rights to free movement. However, after the transition period ends, the UK can set up its own rules regarding immigration.

After leaving, the UK and the EU will try to find a way to continue to have a free trade area with common customs agreements. However, the exact future arrangement is to be negotiated.

In terms of security, the UK will lose all access to EU databases when the transition period ends. H...

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