Withdrawal Agreement: What It is and What It Means
The Withdrawal Agreement is a legal document negotiated between the United Kingdom and the European Union to outline the terms of the UK`s departure from the EU. The agreement was signed in November 2018 and subsequently ratified by both parties in January 2020.
The main purpose of the Withdrawal Agreement is to provide a transition period for the UK to leave the EU in an orderly manner. During the transition period, which lasted until December 31, 2020, the UK continued to abide by EU laws and regulations, while negotiating a future partnership agreement with the EU.
The Withdrawal Agreement covers a wide range of issues, such as citizens` rights, the financial settlement, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and the governance of the Withdrawal Agreement.
One of the key aspects of the agreement is the protection of citizens` rights. The agreement ensures that EU citizens living in the UK, and UK citizens living in the EU, will retain their existing residency, employment, and social security rights, as well as access to healthcare and education. The agreement also establishes an independent monitoring authority to oversee the implementation of these rights.
Another important element of the agreement is the financial settlement. The UK agreed to pay a settlement to the EU to cover its outstanding financial obligations, such as budget commitments and liabilities from shared EU projects. The settlement is estimated to be around 39 billion pounds, payable over several years.
The issue of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland was one of the most contentious issues during the negotiations. The Withdrawal Agreement provides for a “backstop” arrangement to avoid a hard border between the two countries, in the event that a future partnership agreement cannot be reached. This means that Northern Ireland would remain under some EU regulations, while the rest of the UK would not.
Finally, the governance of the Withdrawal Agreement is also addressed in the document. An independent arbitration panel will be established to resolve any disputes that may arise during the implementation of the agreement.
In conclusion, the Withdrawal Agreement is a complex document that aims to provide a smooth and orderly transition for the UK`s departure from the EU. While it has been ratified by both parties, it remains a contentious issue in UK politics, particularly in relation to the Northern Ireland protocol. Nevertheless, the Withdrawal Agreement remains the legal basis for the UK`s relationship with the EU, at least until a new partnership agreement is reached.