Brexit: transition deal agreed

Sophie Lionnet

Mr Barnier said: "British citizens and European citizens of the 27 who arrive during the transition period will receive the same rights guaranteed to those who arrived before the day of Brexit".

While both sides welcomed the agreement in principle, there remain a number of issues that are still up for discussion, including the Irish border - though, for now, the so-called "backstop solution" - which includes full regulatory alignment with the European Union - must form part of the legal text of withdrawal agreement. Northern Ireland would also have to adhere to EU rules on State Aid and would be under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in those aforementioned areas.

Like the British government, the DUP believes a close post-Brexit EU-British free trade deal will allow for an open border, rendering the backstop unnecessary.

"The backstop is as legally firm as the government said it would be in December", a spokesman for Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.

With the issue threatening to stall agreement on the transition period, a deal, however had been struck, Barnier told reporters.

If they accept the document then it means the Brexit negotiations can move on to the most important, and most tricky, phase; agreeing on a long-term trade deal - but both sides now have much more breathing room to get it done, as it doesn't have to be agreed until the end of 2020.

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "While some companies would have liked to see copper-bottomed legal guarantees around the transition, the political agreement reached in Brussels is sufficient for most businesses to plan ahead with a greater degree of confidence".

The thorny issue will, however, require further talks to be fully resolved, the two sides said.

Davis - whose formerly tough pro-Brexit stance seems to have been worn down during his time negotiating in Brussels to a point where he greeted today's news of another massive capitulation as good news - spoke next and dropped the fisheries bombshell, admitting that not only would Britain not take back control of its fisheries, but that the proportion of fish that United Kingdom fishermen are allowed to catch from their own waters under European Union laws wouldn't change through the transition.

The UK has also rolled over on the demand of Michael Gove, the environment secretary, for a renegotiation of the fishing quotas for the past year of the transition period. "We need to come to agreement on this as fast as we can", he said. "The market thinks it's a done deal and the general expectation is that a deal is going to be contingent on the Irish border issue", said Alvin Tan, an FX strategist at Societe Generale.

Speaking after Mr Barnier, the Brexit Secretary said that the agreement represented a "significant step" on ensuring a time-limited implementation period after Brexit which would deliver the certainty demanded by business.

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