The terms of the EU withdrawal agreement have been extensively debated and scrutinized since the UK voted to leave the EU on June 23, 2016. After two years of negotiations, a deal was finally agreed upon in November 2018. The UK Parliament voted on the agreement three times, with each vote resulting in rejection. After several extensions, the UK finally left the EU on January 31, 2020.
So what exactly were the terms of the withdrawal agreement?
Firstly, the status of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU was addressed. The rights of these citizens to live, work, and study in their respective countries were guaranteed, as were their social security rights and access to healthcare. This was a crucial issue for both sides, as it affected millions of people.
Another key issue was the financial settlement. The UK agreed to pay a “divorce bill” to the EU, which covers outstanding financial commitments made by the UK while it was a member of the EU. This includes contributions to the EU budget, funding for EU programs, and pension liabilities for EU officials. The final bill is estimated to be around £39 billion.
The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland was also addressed in the withdrawal agreement. The aim was to avoid a hard border between the two countries, which could have had serious implications for the peace process in Northern Ireland. The so-called “backstop” mechanism was designed to ensure that there would be no physical infrastructure or checks at the border, unless and until a better solution is found.
The withdrawal agreement also included a transition period, during which the UK would continue to follow EU rules and regulations until the end of 2020. This was designed to give businesses and individuals time to adjust to the new arrangements, and to allow for a smoother exit from the EU.
There were many other technical and legal issues addressed in the withdrawal agreement, including the status of EU trademarks and geographical indications, the treatment of data transfers, and the role of the European Court of Justice.
In conclusion, the terms of the EU withdrawal agreement were complex and wide-ranging, covering everything from citizens’ rights to financial settlements and border arrangements. While the agreement was controversial and ultimately rejected by the UK Parliament, it remains an important milestone in the history of the UK’s relationship with the EU.