Saturday 23 March 2019

Transition deal on Brexit will not run beyond 2020, Brussels believes

Chief Brexit negotiator for the EU Michel Barnier. Photo: Reuters
Chief Brexit negotiator for the EU Michel Barnier. Photo: Reuters

Colm Kelpie

A Brexit transition deal will not last beyond the end of 2020, the European Commission has said.

The Commission has formally sent a recommendation to the European Council to begin discussions on the next phase of the Brexit negotiations.

While it sets out the length of the transition period, it also states that issues related to Ireland should be dealt with as a specific strand within the phase two talks.

The Commission also warns the UK against "cherry picking" during the transition period. "The United Kingdom will continue to participate in the Customs Union and the Single Market, with all four freedoms," the Commission states.

"The Union acquis [the accumulated legislation, legal acts, and court decisions which constitute the body of European Union law] should continue to apply in full to and in the UK as if it were a member state.

"Any changes made to the acquis during this time should automatically apply to the United Kingdom."

The Government here had said a transition period of four to five years would be preferable.

The four pages of new directives for the EU's chief Brexit negotiator were in line with guidelines issued by EU leaders at a summit on Friday and will form the basis of talks on the transition that he hopes to start next month.

The directives spell out that Britain will effectively remain in EU institutions, bound by all their rules including new ones, while not having a say in their making.

The document said that all existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures will apply, including the competence of the Court of Justice of the EU.

The transition period needs to be clearly defined and precisely limited in time. The Commission recommends that it should not last beyond 31 December 2020," the Commission said.

The recommendation also recalls the need to translate into legal terms the results of the first phase of the negotiations, as outlined in the Commission's Communication and Joint Report.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May had sought a two-year transition, but EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the 2020 deadline was logical and avoid complications in the next 2021-2027 EU budget period.

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