The progress of the UK’s negotiations on EU withdrawal. December 2017 to March 2018

Author (Corporate)
Series Title
Series Details (2017-19) HC884
Publication Date 18/03/2018
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The United Kingdom: House of Commons: Exiting the European Union Committee published a report The progress of the UK’s negotiations on EU withdrawal. December 2017 to March 2018 on the 18 March 2018.

In this second report of the overarching inquiry The progress of the UK’s negotiations on EU withdrawal into the Article 50 negotiations, the Exiting the European Union Committee made recommendations with regard to the Draft Withdrawal Agreement, a transition or implementation period and the future partnership with the EU.

Note that a minority of the membership of the Committee did not agree with the final text and issued a dissenting report. One of these members, pro-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said 'The majority report is the prospectus for the vassal state. It is a future not worthy of us as a country, and I am sure that Theresa May will rightly reject a report by the high priests of Remain'.

Further information

In this report, the Committee considered the state of the negotiations as in March 2018, the intervening period before Brexit and the work to date on plans for Phase 2. The Committee said that was difficult to see how a Brexit deal covering everything could be negotiated in the time that remained and the Government should consider whether a limited extension to the Article 50 period was needed.

Citizens' rights, the Northern Ireland borderNorthern Ireland border, a wide range of separation issues and the shape of the UK's future economic relationship with the EU would dominate the months of negotiation between now and October 2018, the deadline set by the UK and the EU.

There had been little progress made on solving the problem of how to maintain an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, with no checks and no infrastructure, if the UK left the Customs Union and the Single Market.

The Committee supported the Government's rejection of the European Commission's interpretation of its fall-back position of 'full alignment' in the February 2018 draft Withdrawal Agreement. However, the UK Government had not explained what full alignment meant and the report set out a number of questions for ministers on this issue. As the government was unhappy with sections of the draft withdrawal agreement it should produce its own draft legal text.

The Government had proposed that EU citizens that arrived in the UK during the implementation phase (from March 2019) would have different rights to those that were living in the UK before the transition/implementation period. The Committee stated that this was inconsistent with full acceptance of the acquis which was fundamental to the transition/implementation period.

If substantial aspects of the Future Partnership remained to be agreed in October 2018, the Government should seek a limited extension to the Article 50 time to ensure that an agreement on the Future EU-UK Partnership was sufficiently detailed and comprehensive. The Committee also recommended that the proposed transition/implementation period should be capable of being extended if this proved necessary.

Previous related reports

The United Kingdom: House of Commons: Exiting the European Union Committee had issued earlier related reports:

+ The progress of the UK’s negotiations on EU withdrawal, December 2017
+ European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, November 2017
+ The Government’s negotiating objectives: the White Paper, April 2017
+ The Government's negotiating objectives: the rights of UK and EU citizens< March 2017 + The process for exiting the European Union and the Government’s negotiating objectives, January 2017

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Related Links
UK: Parliament: House of Commons: Committees: News, 18.03.18: Progress of the UK’s negotiations on EU withdrawal report published
Conservative Home: Video, 18.03.18: Benn — talk of 'extensions' to Article 50 process 'is not about undermining the referendum result'
Politico, 17-18.03.18: Postpone Brexit date and prolong transition, suggest UK MPs
BBC News, 18.03.18: Brexit: Commons committee split over transition call
The Guardian, 18.03.18: Call for delayed Brexit day and longer transition splits MPs (The Observer)
ESO: In Focus: Brexit - The United Kingdom and the European Union

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