EU agrees Brexit transition, UK renews Irish border vow
Britain agreed to a potentially unpalatable deal to avoid a “hard border” for Northern Ireland on Monday to win agreement from the European Union that it would retain most EU benefits for nearly two years after Brexit, Reuters reports.
After a weekend of intensive talks under the shadow of Irish fears of “backsliding” by London on a “backstop” accord that Prime Minister Theresa May had rejected, the two sides issued a new, 129-page draft treaty that was awash with green highlighter denoting final agreement on large areas of the legal text.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, told a news conference with Brexit Secretary David Davis that none of this is legally binding until a whole treaty is ratified before Brexit a year from now. However, he described the agreements as a “decisive” moment for efforts to avoid Britain crashing out without a deal.
“A decisive step remains a step; we are not at the end of the road and there still remains a lot of work to be done, including on Ireland and Northern Ireland,” Barnier cautioned.