The European Commission and the UK Government have jointly published a report on the progress of phase 1 of the Brexit negotiations. In a related press release the Commission has stated that sufficient progress has been made, allowing the negotiations to proceed to their second phase.
The Commission is satisfied that sufficient progress has been achieved in each of the three priority areas of citizen’s rights, the dialogue on Ireland / Northern Ireland, and the financial settlement, as set out in the European Council Guidelines of 29 April 2017.
The joint report is not the Withdrawal Agreement. Should the European Council consider that sufficient progress has been made in the negotiations, the Withdrawal Agreement based on Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union will need to be drafted on the basis of the joint report and the outcome of the negotiations on other withdrawal issues. The Withdrawal Agreement will be concluded by the Council, upon a proposal from the Commission, and after obtaining consent of the European Parliament, and is subject to approval by the UK in accordance with its own procedures.
Among other things the joint report states:
- the UK Government will bring forward a Bill, the Withdrawal Agreement & Implementation Bill, specifically to implement the Withdrawal Agreement. The Bill will make express reference to the Withdrawal Agreement and will fully incorporate the citizen’s rights part of the Withdrawal Agreement;
- in the absence of agreed solutions, the UK will ensure that no new regulatory barriers develop between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, unless, consistent with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly agree that distinct arrangements are appropriate for Northern Ireland. In all circumstances, the UK will continue to ensure the same unfettered access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the UK internal market; and
- the Commission and the UK Government have agreed a methodology for the financial settlement (discussed further in the report).
If the European Council considers that sufficient steps has been made, negotiators from both the Commission and the UK Government will begin drafting the Withdrawal Agreement.
The Commission’s press release also adds: “In line with the Council Guidelines of 29 April 2017, and once the Member States agree with the Commission’s assessment, the Commission stands ready to begin work immediately on any possible transitional arrangements and to start exploratory discussions on the future relationship between the EU and the UK.”
View Brexit: European Commission recommends sufficient progress to the European Council, 8 December 2017