The revised withdrawal agreement and the political declaration were discussed and approved at the European Council on 17 October 2019. However, the EU has agreed that discussions can take place on the “comprehensive understanding” of these future relationships before the UK withdraws. The terms of a withdrawal agreement are expected to be accompanied by a political declaration at the end of 2018 setting out the main objectives for future relations that the British Parliament will approve at the same time as the vote on a final withdrawal agreement (see Q11 below). The European Union and the United Kingdom have reached a draft withdrawal agreement. If the draft withdrawal agreement is adopted and formally adopted, the transitional period provisions will govern the UK`s relationship with the EU until 31 December 2020. The provisions of the draft agreement on the transitional period provide that all existing EU legislation will apply to the UK during the transition period. EU legislation will therefore continue to have a direct effect on the UK and the principle of supremacy will apply, but the UK will not be a member of the EU during this period. During the transition period, the United Kingdom will no longer be represented and will participate in the institutions of the European Union after 29 March 2018, but in exceptional cases, representatives or experts from the United Kingdom may, by invitation, attend meetings of certain committees without having the right to vote. Under the backstop, the UK will form a customs union with the EU (with the exception of trade in fisheries and aquaculture products, which is expected to be the subject of a new agreement on fishing opportunities by 1 July 2020). The UK will comply with specific EU customs legislation, including for third countries, and some harmonisation of tax, environmental, labour law, state aid, competition and public enterprise/monopoly legislation will continue, but without any obligation to follow the new EU legislation and ECJ jurisprudence. In order to create a level playing field, the UK is committed not to competitiveise EU environmental protection, social and labour standards, state aid and competition, as well as state-owned enterprises in tax management. The NI protocol, known as “backstop,” is supposed to be temporary and applies unless it is replaced by a future relationship agreement that the parties will attempt to reach by December 31, 2020.
The protocol provides that the common travel area and North-South cooperation will continue to a large extent as they do today, as well as the internal electricity market (so that some EU legislation on wholesale electricity markets will continue to apply).