As the United Kingdom (UK) prepares to leave the European Union (EU), negotiations on the withdrawal agreement continue to take place. Many people are understandably confused about what this means and what the agreement could look like.
Essentially, the withdrawal agreement will set out the terms of the UK`s departure from the EU. This will include provisions on the rights of EU citizens living in the UK (and vice versa), the UK`s financial obligations to the EU, and the future relationship between the two entities.
One of the most contentious aspects of the negotiations has been the issue of the Irish border. Currently, there is no physical border between the Republic of Ireland (which will remain in the EU) and Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK). This has been possible due to the free movement of goods, services, and people within the EU. However, once the UK leaves the EU, this will no longer be the case.
The UK and the EU have been trying to come up with a solution to this problem, but so far there has been no agreement. One proposal put forward by the UK is for a “customs partnership”, where the UK would collect tariffs on behalf of the EU for goods passing through Northern Ireland. This would allow goods to move freely across the Irish border, but has been met with skepticism by the EU.
Another proposal is for a “max fac” (maximum facilitation) option, which would use technology to track goods and minimize the need for physical checks at the border. However, critics argue that this would still result in some form of border, which could have negative consequences for peace in Northern Ireland.
Other issues that are being negotiated include the status of UK citizens living in the EU (and vice versa), the UK`s financial obligations to the EU (the so-called “divorce bill”), and the future trading relationship between the two entities.
It`s important to note that until the withdrawal agreement is signed, nothing is set in stone. However, it`s clear that the negotiations are complex and difficult, with many different interests at play. As the deadline for the UK`s departure from the EU (29 March 2019) gets closer, there is likely to be increased scrutiny and pressure on both sides to come to an agreement.