The UK will soon be able to commence talks over its future trade relationship with the EU after striking a deal with the European Commission to move Brexit negotiations on to the next phase.
Following weeks of difficult discussion, British prime minister Theresa May has been able to provide her European counterparts with mutually acceptable assurances over the three key issues that needed to be settled before the first phase of the negotiating process could be concluded.
The UK has promised that life choices made by EU citizens living in the UK will be protected, with the rights of EU citizens living in Britain and vice-versa set to remain the same after Brexit, with minimal new administrative burdens. Moreover, a Brexit "divorce bill" of around €40 billion to €45 billion has been agreed, covering the cost of the UK's various financial commitments to EU projects.
Finally, the British government has also offered assurances that Brexit will not result in the establishment of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which had been a major sticking point.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, said: "This is a difficult negotiation, but we have now made a first breakthrough. I am satisfied with the fair deal we have reached with the UK.
"If the 27 member states agree with our assessment, the European Commission and our chief negotiator Michel Barnier stand ready to begin work on the second phase of the negotiations immediately."
This agreement should mean that the UK and EU will be able to start discussing transitional arrangements and exploratory conversations on the future relationship between the two regions, including trade.
Any future UK-EU trade deal would have to be engineered around Britain's reluctance to accept a continuation of single market rules on the free movement of people, meaning a free trade agreement similar to the one between the EU and Canada remains the most feasible outcome.