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Brexit transition is agreed - but at a price

Tuesday, 21st March 2018

"The transitional deal between the UK and EU has been agreed. For business leaders on both sides of the channel, this is an important Brexit development — and one that will be widely welcomed.  Since the start of the Article 50 process, companies have feared encountering a regulatory cliff edge in March 2019, the day the UK leaves the EU. The agreement announced on Monday by Michel Barnier and David Davis delays that risk, implementing a standstill transition lasting from March 2019 to December 2020. But the elation of business leaders will be contained. True, the agreement means there will be a positive mood at this week’s European Council and a sense that Brexit negotiations remain on track. But there are three reasons for caution. First, the transitional deal is not fully guaranteed. It still depends on the successful conclusion of an Article 50 deal in the next 12 months. With the EU, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. In recent weeks, British officials had feared that the EU would be unwilling to this week agree to a transition, unless the UK made a firm commitment on how to maintain an invisible border in Ireland. The EU has stepped back from pressing home this demand for now. However, the Irish question remains intractable and now looks set to be tackled head-on at the June EU council. Indeed, there are three tracks to the Article 50 negotiation that stand in the way of an Article 50 deal. These are the Ireland question, the track to settle the future framework for trade, and the dispute resolution mechanism that will be needed for future trade relations. Each is difficult."


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Language: English
Contact: James Blitz

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