A&L Goodbody LLP
  February 28, 2018 - Ireland

Brexit: EU Publishes a Draft Withdrawal Agreement

Earlier this year the European Commission published a draft Withdrawal Brexit Agreement. It is a draft treaty to embody the key principles from the Joint Report of the Commission and the UK on the first three elements of the Brexit negotiations (i.e., People, Ireland and Money - the "PIM" Phase).

The draft Agreement sets out a roadmap for the EU's vision of the withdrawal process.This is a negotiating move by the EU - it is not an agreed draft. It is a move by the EU in the Brexit chess match.Some of what was tabled today will not survive into any final document but much of it will remain in place at the end. There will be controversy over aspects of it for a few days (particularly, relating to Northern Ireland and a continued role for the Court of Justice of the European Union) but the EU is using the old negotiator's trick of "table a draft and you are framing the negotiations".

Some key points for business are as follows:

Importantly from an Irish perspective, there is a 16-article "Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland". A protocol is usually as legally binding as the rest of a treaty. A protocol is also the normal place for dealing with issues relating to one specific issue, topic or region.The draft is quite permissive in some respects (e.g., allowing Ireland and the UK to have Common Travel Area and separate arrangements of their own).

It seeks to:

The draft document already appears, on first blush, to be a subtle document. The Commission is probably trying to bring matters to a head so as to force progress and frame the discussions.The text of the EU's version of a Draft Withdrawal Agreement is available here.

For further information please contact Dr Vincent Power or any member of the Brexit team at A&L Goodbody.