EXPLAINER: Key points of Brexit breakthrough deal
BRUSSELS, Belgium – Britain reached on Friday, December 8, a deal with the EU on Brexit divorce terms, allowing the two sides to move to talks about their future relationship after they go their separate ways in 2019.
The 15-page document, which is set to form the basis of the final, binding withdrawal agreement, was hammered out over the course of nearly six months of negotiations between London and Brussels.
It covers the three main areas where the European Union demanded clarity: citizens' rights, the Irish border and Britain's departure bill.
Here are some of the key points from the agreement:
- The deal allows EU citizens living in Britain and British citizens living in the EU before the official Brexit day of March 29, 2019, to claim permanent residency status. Their families – including children born or adopted after Britain leaves and partners in existing "durable relationships" – will have the same rights.
- They will also have the right to work and study and still be able to access healthcare, pension and social security entitlements as before.
- British courts will rule on disputes over citizens' rights in the UK, but the agreement says they must have "due regard" to judgements by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), and can apply to the court for rulings for eight years after Brexit. The EU says this period will give time for enough case law to develop so that British courts will no longer need ECJ guidance. Breaking away from the authority of the court was a key demand of ardent Brexit campaigners.
- Britain will set up an independent national authority to make sure citizens' rights are being applied as the agreement intends.
- The fate of the Irish border threatened to sink the deal at the 11th hour as Northern Irish unionists who prop up British Prime Minister Theresa May's minority government bridled at wording they feared would divide North Ireland from the UK.
- The two sides promise to protect the 1998 Good Friday peace accord, which ended decades of violence in Northern Ireland and Britain.
- Britain says it will find a way to avoid a "hard border" with checkpoints between Northern Ireland and Ireland -- a key demand of Dublin and the EU. But if this cannot be achieved, Britain says it will keep "full alignment" with the EU single market and customs union rules that are crucial to the Good Friday Agreement.
- Britain says it will support Northern Ireland's position as "an integral part of the United Kingdom". It also pledges not to introduce any new regulatory barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain without the approval of the devolved Northern Irish government.
- The two sides agreed how Britain's final bill as it leaves the bloc should be calculated, but as expected no concrete figure was given. But Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman said later Friday that Britain would pay a financial settlement of 35 to 39 billion pounds (40 to 45 billion euros, $47 to $52 billion).
- Under the deal, Britain will keep paying into the EU budget for two years after it leaves, in 2019 and 2020, as if it were still a member. After this London agrees to contribute its share of budget commitments agreed in the past but not yet paid out.
- The European Investment Bank will reimburse Britain its paid-in capital to the institution in 12 annual instalments starting at the end of 2019. – Rappler.com