Barnier Hails 'Large Part of Brexit Work COMPLETE' as Transition Limited

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The remaining 27 European Union countries say Britain must agree to terms on Northern Ireland before it will sign off on the final version of their divorce agreement and advance to trade talks in April.

Green means the element has been agreed at negotiator level.

The UK and European Union have reached an agreement on a Brexit transition deal.

Helpfully, the deal provides for continuing legal frameworks and market access between the EU27 and United Kingdom until the end of 2020. Given how important border control and migration was to the Brexit movement, that may be a bit tough for May to swallow, although it would only last for twenty months. Businesses are cranking up the pressure to make the transition as solid - and useful - as possible.

The Prime Minister's handling of the Irish border question could bring Brexit negotiations "crashing down", according to the Government's former chief negotiator on Northern Ireland.

This surfaced again in February when a draft of the withdrawal agreement was published by the European Union, which again referred to the backstop, but made no reference to avoiding trade borders between the North and Britain.

In what could be seen as a big win for the UK, the draft agreement confirms, "during the transition period, the United Kingdom may negotiate, sign and ratify global agreements... provided those agreements do not enter into force or apply during the transition period, unless so authorized by the Union".

Britain's Brexit Secretary David Davis said the agreement is conditional on both sides agreeing a final withdrawal treaty, adding today's development would smooth the path to a future permanent relationship.

Davis said the transition agreement which is conditional on both sides agreeing a final withdrawal treaty would smooth the path to a future permanent relationship
EU's Barnier sees most difficult Brexit issues to come at the end of talks

EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier announced this afternoon that he and Brexit Secretary David Davis had made a "decisive step" towards agreeing a joint legal text on the UK's European Union withdrawal.

Brexit Secretary David Davis said it remained the UK's intention to achieve a partnership that was so close it did not need Northern Ireland-specific measures and pledged to engage in detail on all scenarios set out in December's Joint Report between the two sides. They see the potential for new FTAs with the US, Australia, India and even China, in the coming decades for what they call "global Britain".

Northern Ireland would also have to adhere to EU rules on State Aid and would be under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in those aforementioned areas.

"The agreement between the EU and UK on a transitional period up until December 2020 is welcome news particularly in relation to continued frictionless trade across UK-EU borders for the transition".

"There is work to be done", a DUP source said.

She pointed out the draft excludes any reference to their continued right to freedom of movement to enable cross-border commuting or provision of services in another country or to people in another country.

The backstop option would mean alignment between the north and south for customs, VAT, energy, regulations for the protection of the environment and laws governing agriculture and fisheries.

He said there was still a lot of work to do on the matter of the Irish border - but he confirmed that his "backstop" proposal would apply "unless or until another solution is found".

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