A ‘DECISIVE’ step has been taken in sealing a Brexit transition deal.
That’s the story from the UK’s Brexit secretary David Davis and top EU negotiator Michel Barnier, who shook hands today following talks in Brussels, declaring a ‘breakthrough’.
The new terms declare the transition period will end in December 2020, while the UK has also given ground on free movement rights and fishing quota rules.
Britain will be free to negotiate and sign trade agreements after the formal exit date next March, while Gibraltar was also included in the deal.
Meanwhile, UK nationals who arrive to reside or work in the EU during the transition period will get the same rights as before, which was a key demand from the UK.
The deal will become official when it is signed off by EU leaders later this week.
The Irish border, however, remains a contentious issue, with Barnier stressing there would be ‘difficult arguments ahead’.
The Scottish have also been left furious that EU quotas for using British waters will still apply.
Barnier said: “A decisive step remains a step. We are not at the end of the road and there is a lot of work still to be done on important subjects including Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“But this decisive step will be presented by me on Friday.”
Davis claimed the new agreement gave ‘certainty’ to businesses both in the UK and the EU.
He said: “The deal we struck today…should give us confidence that a deal good for the United Kingdom and the EU is closer than ever before.”
UK prime minister Theresa May said the agreement proved doubters wrong and showed that a good trade deal was possible.
The main details of the deal include:
- The transition period will end in December 2020.
- EU nationals arriving in the UK during the transition period will get the same rights as those before – but the UK will be able to charge them for obtaining visas.
- The UK can negotiate and sign global free trade deals, but they can only come into force after December 2020.
- EU fishing quotas will be the law in the UK during the implementation phase, and it will only have the right to be consulted on the levels. It includes a provision that the EU cannot reduce the UK’s quota.
- The Irish border has not been dealt with yet, with both the UK and the EU reaffirming their commitment to a soft border.
- While Gibraltar was included in the agreement, Barnier insisted that a deal with Spain would still be needed before it could come into force.
- UK nationals who arrive to reside or work in the EU during the transition period will get the same rights, which was a key demand by Britain.
“The UK will preserve all the benefits and advantages of the single market, customs union and European policies (during the transition), and will, therefore, be required to respect all the European rules just like member states.”
Davis said: “The United Kingdom will be able to step out, sign and ratify new trade deals with old friends and new allies for the first time in more than 40 years.
“These will come into force when the implementation period ends, providing new opportunities for businesses across the UK and seizing one of Brexit’s greatest opportunities.
“We have agreed those international agreements arising from our EU membership continue to apply as they do now.
“Businesses can be confident there will be no disruption to existing trade relationships when we leave the EU.”
Britain also signed up to the Brexit divorce bill, which is around £40billion.
On Gibraltar Davis said: “Yes the deal includes Gibraltar. That is our view of it.
“We are having negotiations, very constructive discussions with Spain. They will continue.”