“Today in my responsibility as EU negotiator, I consider that we have achieved decisive progress”, Michel Barnier said, speaking shortly after UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced her government’s support of the plan.
Barnier said the text was the result of “very intensive” negotiations stretching back 17 months. “We are at an important moment in this extraordinary negotiation”, he said. “There remains a lot of work to do”, he said. “I know that the way ahead is still long and perhaps difficult to guarantee an orderly withdrawal” and a to build “durable” future partnership, he said.
We have taken a big step today towards an orderly withdrawal. UK will remain our friend, our partner, our ally.
Agreement brings legal certainty on the consequences of Brexit. It is a decisive and crucial step in concluding these negotiations.
Much work needs to be done, the road is still long and it may be difficult to get an orderly Brexit.
We respect the UK’s constitutional integrity. We have worked with the UK on the basis of their backstop proposal. The backstop is not meant to be used. The objective is to reach a new EU-UK agreement before the end of the transition. We have found a solution to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland as in Northern Ireland would stay in the same customs territory as the rest of the UK, but it would remain aligned to some EU regulations to avoid a hard border. The agreement says that if either side considers that the backstop is no longer necessary, it may notify the other party and set out its reasons.