TOP LINES ON THE UK – EU AGREEMENT
Today, the UK and EU negotiating teams issued a joint report on the progress they have made on the three areas covered in the first phase of negotiations.
The President of the European Commission, Jean – Claude Juncker, has agreed that this report represents sufficient progress and that we should now move on to the talks about our future partnership .
As a result, Donald Tusk, the President of the EU Council , has recommended that the De cember Council allows the next stage of negotiations to proceed and that there should be quick progress on agreeing an implementation period.
o secures the rights of the three million EU citizens living here and the million British citizens living in the EU;
o represents a fair settlement of the accounts; and
o maintains the Common Travel Area with Ireland, which has operated since the 1920s, and sets out both sides’ determination to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland , while respecting the integrity of the UK Single Market.
On Monday , the Prime Minister decided that the agreement then on offer was not good enough so we went back to the negotiating table. Since then we have secured a further change on citizens’ rights and eight crucial changes on Northern Ireland, addressing the concerns raised by the DUP and many colleagues about the risks of divergence between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. This is now a good deal for citizens, for taxpayers and for all parts of the United Kingdom that will allow us to get on to the vital trade negotiations and get quick agreement to an implementation period in the best interests of people and businesses in the UK and across the continent as we leave EU .
While we have reached agreement on the phase one issues, paragraph five of the report makes it clear that ‘nothing is agreed un til everything is agreed’.
Throughout this process, the PM has said that there needs to be reciprocal protections for British citizens living in the EU and for EU citizens living in the UK. This is what th is deal delivers.
In the UK, EU citizens’ rights will be upheld by implementing the agreement into our law, instead of continued EU law enforced by the EU courts , as the EU first asked for. The compulsory jurisdiction of the ECJ will have ended.
Our courts can choose to ask the ECJ for a legal view on the law in relation to citizens’ rights where there is a point of law that has not arisen before – but our Courts will make the final judgements on each case, not the ECJ.
In practical terms , if the past is a guide we would not expect this to happen very often – i t currently happens for two or three cases a year in this area of law. And this ability will be strictly confined to those citizens’ rights as exercised under the withdrawal agreement by EU citizens who were settled here before we leave the EU , and will not extend in any way beyond that .
And there is an 8 – year sunset clause in any case – at the end of which even this voluntary mechanism will come to an end and we will, once again, be in total control of our own laws.
In short, the ability of our courts to ask the ECJ for a view will be voluntary, very narrowly defined, and time limited .
The Prime Minister has continually said that we are a country that honours its obligations.
As part of that we have agreed a fair settlement of commitments we’ve made while a member of the EU , in the spirit of our future partnership.
Following a rigorous assessment by our negotiators of claim s made on the EU side, we expect the settlement to come in significantly below many of the initial projections.
All of this is money that we would have paid anyway had we stayed in the EU.
As we leave, and we pay off our commitments, this means there will be significant sums to spend on our priorities, including the NHS, which would otherwise have gone to the EU.
This offer is made in the spirit of our future partnership, and depends upon a broader agreement being reached. Of course, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, and if t here is no agreement then our offer falls away too .
The Common Travel Area with Ireland will be maintained.
Everyone has pledged that there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. We want to see that avoided by the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU that we are confident we can negotiate in phase 2. But if we do not achieve that we will look to negotiate specific solutions for the Northern Irish border.
I f we do no t achieve either of those outcomes, we will maintain full alignment – that is sharing the same policy goals even if we achieve them by different means – with those rules which specifically support north – south cooperation under the terms of the 1998 Belfast Agreement . We will do this either at a UK – wide level or at a Northern Ireland only level if there is cross – community consent for that. In either event, we will protect Norther n Ireland’s place in the internal market of the UK with full, unfettered access for Northern Ireland’s businesses .
But we are confident it will no t come to that. The best way to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland is to negotiate the right trading relationship between the UK and the EU, and that is what we will now be able to do.