In the Joint Report of EU and UK negotiators, published last December, the UK made a number of commitments and guarantees, including ensuring there would be no border infrastructure of any kind or associated checks and controls on the island of Ireland. In addition to commitments on Irish-specific issues, the UK made commitments across the other two exit issues; citizens’ rights, and the financial settlement.
The UK Government must now decide how to give effect to the commitments outlined in phase one of the Article 50 negotiations. In December, the European Council was clear that negotiations in phase two can only progress as long as all commitments undertaken in the first phase are respected in full and translated into legal terms as quickly as possible.
The guidelines agreed by the European Council in December called on negotiators to complete work on the withdrawal issues and to start drafting the relevant parts of the Withdrawal Agreement. This work has been ongoing since December. The Withdrawal Agreement, when finalised, will be legally binding and will reflect the principles and commitments agreed in phase one, including on the Irish specific issues.
We expect the first draft of the Withdrawal Agreement to be published by the Commission shortly. It will then be discussed internally by EU Member States in preparation for negotiations between the EU Task Force and the UK.