On 8 December 2017, negotiators for the European Union and United Kingdom issued a joint report confirming that the parties have reached an agreement in principle across the following three areas under consideration, which together form the first phase of Brexit negotiations:
(a) Protecting the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU;
(b) The single financial settlement; and
(c) The nature and rules regarding the border between Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (which is an EU Member State).
Ireland’s Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has described this agreement as, “the end of the beginning” of the negotiations. The report is described by the parties as a series of “joint commitments” rather than an independent agreement: the terms are loosely worded, not legally binding, and open to adaptation.
The parties had previously agreed that the Brexit negotiations are subject to the caveat that, “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”; accordingly, the joint commitments published on 8 December shall only take legal effect when they are entered into the final Withdrawal Agreement.
As events unfold, we will be providing regular updates on the legal implications of Brexit.
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