Monday, March 19,
2018 05.39PM / The Guardian and The CityUk
The UK has struck a deal on the terms of the Brexit
transition period after making a series of concessions to Brussels and
accepting a “back stop” plan of keeping Northern Ireland under EU law to avoid
a hard border with the Republic of Ireland. After an intense few days and nights
of talks, Brexit secretary David Davis said
agreement on the terms of the 21-month period, ending on 31 December 2020, was
a “significant” moment, which would give businesses and citizens the
reassurance they needed.
Liam Fox, the secretary for
international trade, will also be allowed to sign new trade deals to come into
force in 2021.
However, the British government has
had to accept defeat on a series of demands, including on the prime minister’s
very public insistence that citizens arriving during the transition period
would be treated differently to those already in the UK.
“British citizens and European
citizens of the 27 who arrive during the transition period will receive the
same rights and guarantees as those who arrived before the day of Brexit,” said
the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier,
during a joint press conference on the latest draft of the withdrawal
May has repeatedly insisted that the
rights offered had to be “different” for those “coming to a UK they know will
be outside the EU”.
Most contentiously, Barnier said that
the UK had agreed that in relation to Northern Ireland the withdrawal agreement
will retain a default solution to avoid a hard border under which the north and
south of the island of Ireland would remain in regulatory alignment.
Responding to the announcement, Miles
Celic, Chief Executive Officer, TheCityUK, said,
This is a critical milestone in the
Brexit negotiations and it meets the first of our industry’s three key Brexit
priorities – a status quo transition arrangement to reduce uncertainty and
ensure an orderly withdrawal. We have argued strongly that this needed to be in
place early this year, and we are very pleased to see this achieved.
This political agreement should reassure businesses. While nothing is agreed
until everything is agreed, it will now be important that government, industry
and regulators work closely together to deliver maximum certainty for business
We are already half way through the Article 50 process, but we are yet to reach
a half way point in addressing the vital issues faced by customers across
Europe. Negotiators must seize on this progress and use it to press on towards
agreeing an ambitious vision for the future. One which builds on our close
trading partnership in goods and services and strengthens European growth and