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Draft Brexit deal — what you need to know

January 23, 2019

The EU and UK drafted a Brexit deal that includes a financial settlement and a customs union backstop to prevent a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. DW breaks down the agreement.

 EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier holds the draft withdrawal agreement during a media conference in Brussels
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/V. Mayo

After 18 months of negotiations, the United Kingdom and the European Union published their 585-page draft withdrawal agreement in mid-November 2018.

Here is an overview of the key takeaways from the drafted deal:

Citizenship rights

  • The rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU will be protected
  • UK citizens who have lived in the EU continuously for five years by the end of the implementation period will have the right to reside permanently in that member state. The same rules apply for EU citizens living in the UK.
  • EU citizens living in the UK can be joined by close family members — spouses, civil and unmarried partners, dependent children and dependent parents or grand parents — who live in a different country at any point in the future.
  • Workers and self-employed people will be broadly guaranteed the same rights they currently enjoy.

What's next for Brexit bedlam?

Transition period

  • There will be a 21-month transition period ending December 31, 2020.
  • The transition period can be extended so long as an extension agreement is agreed to before July 1, 2020.
  • EU rules would continue to apply in the UK subject to the terms set out in the Brexit agreement.
  • After the transition period, a joint committee co-chaired by the EU and the UK would police the final withdrawal agreement, taking decisions by mutual consent and whose verdicts would be binding.

Read more: Brexit: What Europe wants

Financial settlement

  • The UK will participate in EU annual budgets in 2019 and 2020.
  • Even if the transition period is extended, the UK will cease taking part in EU budget talks after 2020.
  • The UK will pay its share of outstanding budget commitments and its share of liabilities as at the end of 2020.
  • The entire "financial settlement" is expected to be between 35 billion to 39 billion pounds (€40-€45 billion, $45-$51 billion).

Ireland and customs union 'backstop'

  • Both parties will "use their best endeavors" to have a trade agreement in place six months before the end of the transition period, whether it is December 2020 or another agreed upon end date.
  • If appropriate customs arrangements are not agreed to, a backstop arrangement would kick in. A joint "single customs territory" between the EU and UK would apply from the end of the transition period "unless and until… a subsequent agreement becomes applicable."
  • The "single customs territory" would cover all goods except fishery products.
  • Under the backstop arrangement, the UK must observe "level playing field" commitments on competition, state aid, taxes and employment and environment standards.
  • The backstop plan, designed to be temporary, would prevent the implementation of a hard border between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland.
  • The UK is committed to avoiding any hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland and upholding the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the peace deal that ended three decades of conflict and created the present-day political institutions.

Read more: The Irish border  — what you need to know