The European Union has agreed a new Brexit deal with Britain. Here are the details.
European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is seen on a screen in a press room as he speaks during a news conference at European Council building in Brussels, Belgium, October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman
The new divorce agreement comes in the form of 64 pages of tweaks to a previous deal that was 585-pages long but has stalled after being repeatedly rejected by British lawmakers in the House of Commons.
Nearly 30 pages of a political declaration on future ties between the European Union and United Kingdom after Brexit make a package with the legal international treaty dealing with the split itself.
Overall, the deal would allow Britain to distance itself further from the bloc than was envisaged under the stalled agreement sealed by the then prime minister, Theresa May, a year ago.
Northern Ireland remains in the United Kingdom’s customs territory but it will also remain the entry point to the EU’s single market and the bloc’s procedures will apply to goods arriving there in this complex system.
There will be no customs checks on the island of Ireland — they will be done in ports. UK authorities will be in charge of applying the EU customs rules in Northern Ireland.
That marks a concession on the EU side, which has said earlier on in the negotiations that letting a third country collect its duties would be dereliction of sovereignty.
For goods coming from third countries to Northern Ireland only, UK customs will apply. For goods deemed to be headed for the EU market, UK authorities will collect EU tariffs.
No EU tariffs would be paid on personal goods carried by travellers across the Irish frontier and for a second category of exempted goods that can only be for immediate consumption rather than subsequent processing.
An EU-UK body called the Joint Committee will define this second group of goods more precisely after Brexit.
The UK will be allowed to reimburse excise duties for companies in Northern Ireland as long as it does not undercut EU state aid rules.
Northern Ireland will be able to benefit from future UK trade deals around the world. As long as the goods do not cross to Ireland and the EU’s single market, only UK customs tariffs will apply.
The Northern Irish assembly will have to give consent after Brexit for the region’s continued alignment with the EU regulatory regime.
Four years after Brexit, the assembly will have to decide by simple majority of those taking part in the vote whether to apply it. If the vote is positive, the system is extended for another four years.
If however, the vote secures cross-community support, such as a majority of both unionist and nationalist groups, the system is extended for eight years until another vote.
If consent is not granted, there is a two-year cooling off period during which sides need to find a new solution to prevent the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland.
If the regional assembly does not sit or vote, the system continues as the default position.
Unlike the “backstop” solution in the original deal, rejected by the British parliament, this system would not be replaced by a new free-trade deal between Britain and the EU. That marks a big concession from the EU side.
The sides aim for an ambitious free-trade agreement after Brexit with no tariffs and unlimited quotas. It comes together with a statement that sides will uphold high standards on environment, climate, workers’ rights and other rules.
REST REMAINS AS IN PREVIOUS AGREEMENT
Previously agreed settlement on citizens’ rights after Brexit and Britain’s divorce bill stay as they were. That also goes for a transition period of 14 months until the end of 2020, which can be extended by one year or two years.
The agreement would also preserve the single travel area on the island of Ireland.