Britain agrees key terms of Brexit transition deal

Brexit | | MIC Customs Solutions |

Britain and the EU have agreed a number of important details about the transition period, but not everyone is happy about the deal.

Britain and the EU have agreed a "large part" of the deal under which the UK will undergo a transitional exit.

The two sides revealed a raft of new agreements, designed to ensure an "orderly withdrawal" over a period of 21 months, lasting from March 29th 2019 - when Britain ceases to be a formal member of the EU - to December 31st 2020. 

Brexit secretary David Davis and the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier described the framework as a "decisive step" forward in the process. Both sides have said it represents progress towards ensuring a constructive and positive relationship between the UK and the EU after Brexit. 

However, the transition will only be enacted if a treaty has been formally signed, and Mr Barnier pointed out this will only happen if agreement can also be reached on the remaining outstanding matters.

A key development that the British government will be happy with is that it will be entirely at liberty to agree new trade deals with countries outside the EU during the transition period, while remaining subject to EU-negotiated arrangements in the meantime. 

Citizens travelling between the EU and UK - in either direction - will also retain the same rights as they have now during the transition. 

However, while all this may provide businesses with a degree of  certainty, many issues still need to be solved and some of the transitional details have sparked anger in the UK. 

The Scottish fishing industry is unhappy with the aspect that states the UK will merely be "consulted" on quotas and access to its waters until 2021. This is seen as a blow for those who were hoping to see full control of British territorial waters return in March 2019, rather than being an unofficial member of the Common Fisheries Policy for nearly two years. 

Many living and trading in Northern Ireland will also be unhappy with ongoing uncertainty over its border with the Republic. Ulster will be a de facto member of the single market during the transition period, which means its future trading relationship and the nature of the border may be the subject of further hard negotiation during the transition period. 

So, while much is now clearer about how the UK will leave the EU, there is much else about the future that remains highly uncertain.