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Decoding: “Brexit, the new Withdrawal Agreement”

Jean-François Adelle

Following the rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement and political declaration dated 14 November 2018 by the UK House of Commons the Johnson government and the EU commission have negotiated a new draft withdrawal agreement, finalized on 17 October 2019 from the one Boris Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, agreed with Brussels in following more than eighteen months of negotiation.

To avoid a sudden divorce between the UK and the EU, the European and UK parliaments must approve an exit agreement and a political declaration that will frame their future negotiations. The UK would then enter into a transition period until 31 December 2020: a period of time that would allow for agreements to be reached on future relations.

Initially set at midnight on 29 March 2019, and subsequently extended to 12 April, then to 31 October 2019, the fateful withdrawal date was set on 31 January 2020 at the latest. However, on 27 December 2019, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed serious doubts about the feasibility of negotiations on the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union by the end of 2020 Most of elements of the provisions to be legally-binding of the former Withdrawal Agreement remain unchanged in the new one. It is summarized below.