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UK, EU agree Brexit transition terms

UK, EU agree Brexit transition terms

The pound surged on confirmation that Britain would remain effectively a non-voting European Union member for 21 months until the end of 2020.

European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, right, reaches out to shake hands with British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis.

Our relationship would fall back on the rules set up by the World Trade Organisation, which business say would be extremely costly and damaging to them, which is why they have lobbied so hard for a transitional agreement.

European Union leaders are expected to endorse plans for the transition when they meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, clearing the way for detailed talks on a future trade relationship.

The EU and the United Kingdom made "decisive steps" on Monday (19 March) towards a Brexit agreement that should help launch the work for a future trade agreement when EU leaders meet this week, while leaving crucial issues still unsolved.

Britain and the European Union on Monday reached a landmark deal on a transition phase that will see London follow the bloc's rules for almost two years after the Brexit divorce.

But Monday's agreement leaves the issue open, with nothing more than the promise that "a legally operative version of the "backstop" solution for the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, in line with paragraph 49 of the joint report" would be part of the withdrawal agreement. "But it remains our intention to achieve a partnership that is so close as to not require specific measures in relation to Northern Ireland".

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Banks and insurers have said they might not be able to rely on such a political deal as it will not be formally ratified by governments until October or later, which would be too late for them to avoid making adjustments to their operations.

After an "intensive" weekend of talks in Brussels, Barnier said the two sides were "in agreement on a large part" of the divorce treaty governing the terms of Britain's departure after four decades of membership.

Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: "Agreeing transition is a critical milestone that will provide many hundreds of businesses with the confidence to put their contingency planning on hold and keep investing in the UK. And this option will allow citizens who so wish, to have immediate legal certainty on their right of residence after the transition period", said Barnier.

The agreement must be approved by EU leaders meeting at the European Council summit on the 22nd and 23rd of this month.

However, he described the agreements as a "decisive" moment for efforts to avoid Britain crashing out without a deal.

But many European Union diplomats said they felt London had largely agreed to their terms on most issues because of May's political imperative to get a transition deal that may calm the fears of businesses contemplating moving investments out of Britain.

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