The Brexit preparations are complete, and the negotiating teams have worked their way through all the folders and come up with proposals for how to deal in the future. The result is this massive 585 page document, which covers the terms of UK departure from the EU, and lays the ground rules for both the interim period from April 2019 onward, and the process by which the final trade deal will be completed – a process which may take up to 5 years to finalise. The document is written in particularly impenetrable Civil Service legalese, and almost every sentence refers to other documents requiring a legal library to be available to the reader. Fortunately, the Peace Palace in The Hague has such a library, which you can join for the princely sum of 10 Euros 🙂
UK residents in the EU might like to pay special attention to part 2 (Citizen’s Rights) of the agreement, which runs from page 16 to page 47. As expected and feared, the ongoing rights of UK citizens currently residing in the EU will be limited to their ‘host country’ after Brexit. This means that UK citizens residing in the EU will have no separate right to enter, reside or work in other EU member states, and will become “landlocked”. Any such right will need to be negotiated separately – unlike EU citizens in the UK, who will retain freedom of residence anywhere in Wales, Scotland, England, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Consequently the situation remains unclear and unfair as the acquired rights of UK residents in the EU have been ignored. The result is likely to be that the negotiation ends up in the European Court of Justice, where to date the respective governments have done their utmost to prevent citizens from gaining clarification. The damage to our individual rights and businesses remains unrecognised.
The next step will be ratification, which looks unlikely in the UK at the moment. The UK minority government does not have the necessary votes to get the document approved. Such approval by Parliament is required by UK law by the 20th of January 2019. Ratification by the other EU nations is also unsure, although appears more likely based on assurances made to the EU November Brexit summit.