The Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration signed off by the European Council represent hard-won compromise, but included positive news for UK business. Change has been seen regarding the status of EU nationals living in the UK, free flow of data and balanced arrangements for services trade.
On 25 November 2018, the European Council signed off the Withdrawal Agreement - a 585-page text that provides an overview of the terms on which the UK will leave the EU. This was published alongside a political declaration on the future relationship. The Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration represented hard-won compromise – but included some positive news for UK business.
- The Withdrawal Agreement confirms that both EU and UK nationals who are living in the UK and EU respectively at the end of the transition period, will continue to live, work and study as they currently do now. This is a welcome step for business as it safeguards the rights for over 3 million EU citizens in the UK, and over 1 million UK nationals in EU countries, to stay to contribute to each other’s economies and societies.
- Compromises were made on the Northern Irish Border with both sides agreeing to a “backstop” to ensure a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is never necessary - something businesses have been calling for since the referendum. The EU and the UK have agreed on a set of measures to ensure that there is a level playing field between them if the backstop were to come into play, ranging from rules on state aid, competition, taxation, environment and labour.
- The Political Declaration recognised the importance of services and set out a commitment to an ambitious, comprehensive and balanced arrangements for services trade which is welcome for businesses.
- The political declaration also confirmed that the UK and EU would begin discussions on a data adequacy agreement - vital for the free flow of data between UK and EU businesses post-Brexit.