UK to start official exit from EU May 2019

British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) is welcomed by European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker at European Commission in Brussels on December 8, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND

The UK will start its official withdrawal from the EU in March 29, 2019, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said.

Bernier who was quoted by BBC said the two sides had agreed on a transition period, calling the announcement a “decisive step”.

He spoke after meeting with the UK’s Brexit secretary David Davis.

The transitional period will begin from Brexit day – 29 March, 2019 – and is designed to smooth the path to the future permanent relationship.

Mr Barnier said there was also an agreement on the rights of 4.5m EU citizens in the UK and the 1.2m UK citizens in the EU after Brexit.

But he said more work still needed to be done on important subjects including the Northern Ireland border.

Both the UK and the EU hope the terms of an agreement on the transitional period can be signed off by Theresa May’s fellow leaders at the EU summit this week.

Mr Barnier said the new draft legal text marks a “decisive step” but added that it was “not the end of the road”.

“We have reached an agreement on the transition period,” Mr Barnier told a press conference in Brussels. “The transition will be of limited duration.”

Mr Davis said the move provided further certainty for businesses and had agreed safeguards for fishing quotas during the transition period.

Among other issues the two sides have had to negotiate for the transition period have been what role the European Court of Justice has in the UK, whether the UK can negotiate future trade deals with non-EU countries as well as the continuing issues of Gibraltar post-Brexit.


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