Thursday, 17 October 2019

EU ~ Negotiator Level agreement ~ NOT the done deal by a long way

Negotiations end with agreement:

On 17 October 2019, the European Commission published details of the outcome of talks at negotiator level aimed at reaching a Withdrawal Agreement under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union - see "Negotiating documents on Article 50 negotiations with the UK"

UK government - New Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and Political Declaration and note the 3 documents - Revised Protocol to the Withdrawal Agreement, Revised Political Declaration, and Unilateral Declaration on Consent.

EU Commission Press Release 17 October 2019 - "The European Commission has today recommended the European Council (Article 50) to endorse the agreement reached at negotiator level on the Withdrawal Agreement, including a revised Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland, and approve a revised Political Declaration on the framework of the future EU-UK relationship. The Commission also recommends that the European Parliament give its consent to this agreement. This follows a series of intensive negotiations between the European Commission and UK negotiators over the past few days."

Later on 17 October,
the European Council endorsed the withdrawal agreement and approved the political declaration that were agreed on 17 October at negotiator level.
Next steps:

There are several steps to be taken before there is a concluded and binding withdrawal agreement.

The European Parliament has to approve the withdrawal agreement.

The UK Parliament must approve the agreement under the terms of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 section 13 and the European Union (Withdrawal) (No 2) Act 2019 - previous post.

Also, a Withdrawal Agreement Bill is required and, so far, this has not been published - see Institute for Government and also see section 13(1)(d) of the EU Withdrawal Act 2018.

The provisions of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 also apply.

It remains to be seen whether an extension of time will be requested and, if requested, whether it will be granted.

House of Lords Report on Withdrawal Agreement:

For a timely reminder that Irish Border Issues are not the only vital matters requiring attention see the article by Charles Kinnoull at Prospect 17 October 2019 - "As attention in Westminster and Brussels is again focused on the question of whether the UK and the EU27 can reach an agreement on issues relating to the Irish border, in order to get a Brexit deal over the line before 31st October, the wider question of the contents of the Withdrawal Agreement as a whole is often overlooked.

In December 2018, the House of Lords European Union Committee produced a detailed report on the contents of the WA. Given that the UK government does not appear to have sought to re-open most of these provisions in its negotiations with the European Commission, I thought it the right time to revisit the EU committee’s conclusions."

Links:

Institute for Government - Northern Ireland Protocol Explainer

House of Commons Library 18 October - The October 2019 EU UK Withdrawal Agreement - This paper focuses on the Withdrawal Agreement and how it compares to the one negotiated by Theresa May's Government in November 2018. The main differences are in the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland or the 'backstop' as it is commonly known. It contains very different arrangements, the UK will no longer be in a single customs territory or union with the EU. The UK will no longer be legally bound to continue with level playing field commitments at the end of the transition period. Northern Ireland will still be in the UK's customs territory and VAT area, however, the region will align with the EU's rules in these areas. Northern Ireland will remain mostly aligned to the EU's regulations for goods. Four years after the end of the transition period Northern Ireland's democratic institutions will vote on whether they wish to continue the arrangements in the Protocol.

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